Press Release
March 21, 2017

Bam renews call to probe PH foreign policy, gov't stand on Panatag Shoal, Benham Rise

A senator renewed his call to look into the country's foreign policy direction following President Duterte's latest pronouncements over Benham Rise and Panatag Shoal.

Last Sept. 19, 2016, Sen. Bam Aquino filed Senate Resolution No. 158, urging the government to clarify the country's stand on different foreign policy issues. It was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations chaired by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Sen. Cayetano expressed willingness to conduct a hearing on the matter. However, six months had passed and, until now, no date has been set for the hearing.

In addition, Sen. Bam insisted that the government must enlighten the Senate on the agreement that President Duterte allegedly entered into with China in connection with the Benham Rise. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), for its part, was not informed about the deal.

"Mayroon ba talagang kasunduan na nangyari? At kung mayroon man, dapat ipaalam ng pamahalaan sa Senado ang nilalaman nito upang mapag-aralan at malaman ng taong bayan," said Sen. Bam, who plans to call officials of the DFA, Department of National Defense and the Office of the President to clarify the matter.

Last year, Sen. Bam filed the resolution due to President Duterte's different pronouncements on important foreign policy issues.

Aside from Sen. Bam, three other senators backed the resolution, including Sens. Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan and Leila de Lima.

In a joint statement, the four senators expressed support behind Duterte's push for an independent foreign policy but stressed that it must protect and champion the interest of the Filipino people.

The lawmakers also want the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Finance, and Trade and Investments to "explain the ramifications of the President's latest foreign policy pronouncements on Filipinos living here and abroad".

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