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Hontiveros calls for transparency in gov’t’s foreign policy response to China

The Duterte administration must be transparent in its dealings with China, said Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday.

Hontiveros made this statement after the Department of Foreign Affairs said it will not make public the “diplomatic actions” it will take regarding the nation’s aggressive militarization in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.

Hontiveros said the government should weigh the short-term advantages of secrecy in foreign policy with the long-term benefits of transparency. “I understand that there are certain information that should be kept secret from the public such as the placement and movement of our military in the West Philippine Sea. But a diplomatic action against China’s militarization in the region that is long-clamored-for by the public and overdue?”

“President Duterte and his foreign affairs officials have the responsibility to assuage the people’s fears by patiently explaining to the people their foreign affairs strategy to respond to China’s militarization of the region. The people need to see and be assured that their government is really standing up for their country. The government cannot possibly rally the Filipino people against Chinese aggression under a so-called diplomatic action that they know absolutely nothing about,” she added.

Hontiveros said the Duterte government owes the public an explanation. “What kind of diplomatic actions are being undertaken by our foreign affairs officials? Are they filing a formal diplomatic protest? What platforms and channels are they planning on using? Also, how can the Duterte government take a credible and effective ‘diplomatic action’ against Chinese militarization when it itself says that it does not consider China a security threat despite the deployment of nuclear-capable bombers to the disputed region?”

Hontiveros said she will push for a legislative oversight of the Executive’s foreign policy direction and implementation.

“I believe that there are several resolutions filed before the Senate, including by Senators Bam Aquino and Sonny Trillanes, urging the government to be transparent about and clear on its foreign policy direction, especially in securing our territorial integrity in the West Philippine Sea. I will gather the support of my colleagues so that a parliamentary oversight of the Executive’s foreign policy can be conducted the soonest. The public deserve to be informed,” Hontiveros said.

“The government’s silence and the lack of transparency on its foreign policy response to China do not encourage public confidence. They also give the impression that the government has already bowed down to China. This is not the time for opacity and silence. Silence gives consent to China’s transgressions. Silence is subservience,” she added.

Trillanes filed Senate Resolution No. 722 seeking an inquiry on China’s installation of missile systems on three outposts in the Spratly Islands being claimed by the Philippines. Aquino, meanwhile, filed Senate Resolution No. 158 urging the government to clarify the country’s stand on different foreign policy issues.

Earlier, Hontiveros also called on the Duterte administration to take China’s militarization of the region to the United Nations.#