Silence on China
As early as September 2016, there has been a pending resolution calling for an inquiry into Duterte’s “conflicting” foreign policy. There are also at least 3 resolutions calling for an investigation into China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea.
Yet until now, nearly two years after and with China being more hostile, there has been no Senate investigation into the matter.
A Chinese aircraft had landed in President Duterte’s hometown in Davao City recently. Senator Panfilo Lacson and the minority bloc slammed the move, saying the Philippines might one day wake up a province of the Asian giant.
The landing comes as the Philippines and China remain embroiled in a dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The most recently reported incident between the two countries involves the China Coast Guard taking the catch of Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal. (READ: To prove fruits of PH-China ‘friendship,’ Roque brings fishermen to press briefing)
With all this, Senate foreign relations committee chair Loren Legarda only said she would conduct an investigation “soon” – how soon remains unclear to date.
Opposition senators have questioned why there is no investigation yet, with Drilon calling on the body to “assert the Senate’s role as a partner in the conduct of foreign affairs.”
“We will soon conduct a public hearing and I will work with my colleagues, including the [Senate] committee on national defense and security, in determining how best to support current initiatives to diffuse the tension, while at the same time protecting our sovereignty and territorial rights,” Legarda said in a statement on June 15.
Legarda said she might schedule one hearing during the break, but she would only hear those referred to her committee. Other resolutions, she said, were referred to Senator Gregorio Honasan II’s committee on national defense and security. Congress is set to resume sessions on July 23, but so far there is no schedule yet.
Sotto, for his part, is cold to the idea of an investigation.
“Baka may mga librong mabuksan, eh. May mga kilos na mabuksan na ‘di dapat malaman ng iba muna,” Sotto earlier told reporters. (It might open books and acts that others should not know yet.)
Legarda and Honasan are both ending their terms in 2019. Legarda is reportedly eyed as the next secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Duterte earlier told reporters that he made an informal offer to a lady senator he refused to name. Legarda has expressed openness to it.