Press Release
July 31, 2019

Hontiveros hits PH "doormat" foreign policy, amid incursions of Chinese warships in PH seas

"How long will the Duterte government play doormat to China and its interests?"

This was the question posed by Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, who urged the Duterte government to end its "doormat" foreign policy on China and to strongly protest the latest incursion of Chinese warships in Philippine waters.

Hontiveros made the call after Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana recently decried Chinese "bullying" in Philippine waters, as he admitted that several Chinese warships have sailed through the Sibutu Strait in Tawi-tawi province this year without notice to the Philippine government.

Among the ships that reportedly passed through the area was China's first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, but this remains unconfirmed by the Philippine military. However, Jay Batongbacal, a maritime law expert, showed an image from a Japanese analyst showing Liaoning passing through Sibutu Strait from Japan on June 20.

"While the Sibutu strait is considered an international waterway where the commercial vessels' right of innocent passage is upheld, the unannounced entry of Chinese armed warships into our territory is unacceptable, especially if China requires foreign warships to inform it of their presence before passing through its waters," Hontiveros said.

"We must not allow China to get away with its double standards. The Duterte government must put its foot down and officially bring this matter before the Chinese government," Hontiveros added.

Hontiveros noted that Lorenzana, who is a member of President Duterte's Cabinet, said that Chinese ships should have activated their automatic identification system (AIS) while passing through Philippine waters, so that authorities will be aware of their presence. She said that the incursions are proof that President Rodrigo Duterte's policy of appeasement of China's actions in the West Philippine Sea and other parts of the nation's territory "is dysfunctional, defeatist, and a threat to our national interest."

"While the President tried to explain why he has failed to uphold our sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea during his latest State of the Nation Address, it is clear that his approach is not working well. His words and actions seem to have emboldened, rather than mitigated, Chinese aggression and bullying in our seas," she said.

Hontiveros challenged the Duterte administration to take more steps towards peacefully enforcing its rights over its territorial waters - which was upheld by the historic Hague ruling in 2016 - in a manner consistent with international laws. She added that Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio's proposals on how to manage China's activities in the West Philippine Sea should be seriously considered.

"Huwag sana tayong pumayag na gawin tayong doormat at yurakan ang ating soberanya ng kahit sinong bansa, lalo na ng mga bansang tinuturing nila na kaibigan," Hontiveros said.

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