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Hontiveros calls for a review of bilateral relations with China

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros is calling for a review of the Philippines’ bilateral relationship with China, following reports that China has landed long-range nuclear-capable H-6K bombers in the Paracels Islands.

“We can’t call a country that robs us of our islands and threatens us with nuclear war a friend,” Hontiveros said on Sunday.

“By placing our country within striking distance of its nuclear-capable bombers, China has virtually threatened us with nuclear war over the West Philippine Sea. This is unacceptable. This is a serious threat to the lives of our citizens, an assault on our Constitution and a direct violation of internationally-recognized treaties to which we are a signatory,” she added.

Hontiveros cited Article II, Section 8 of the Philippine Constitution which calls for the country’s adoption and pursuance of “a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory.”

“Our government must immediately review our bilateral relations with China and check if they are still faithful to our Constitution and the treaties we are part of,” she said.

The opposition Senator also reminded the Duterte government of a legally-binding United Nations treaty it signed in 2017 prohibiting nuclear weapons, and its obligations under the Bangkok Treaty establishing a Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.

Hontiveros called on the Duterte government to bring China’s nuclear threats before the United Nations General Assembly.

“As a country with a Constitution that renounces war as an instrument of national policy and the use of nuclear weapons, the Philippines must sponsor a resolution before the UN condemning China’s threat of nuclear war against the Philippines and demand that it comply with the ruling of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitral tribunal,” she said.

“I challenge President Duterte and his foreign affairs officials to end their subservience to China and muster the necessary political courage to stand up to protect our national sovereignty and the lives of our citizens,” Hontiveros added.