No Senate investigation on China’s activities in WPS in the meantime — Sotto

Published June 14, 2018, 5:00 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The Senate may not conduct any investigation on China’s activities in the West Philippines Sea (WPS) in the meantime to avoid pre-empting the government’s move on the issue.

This was according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, as he addressed supposed calls from the minority bloc for the Upper Chamber to look into reports of China’s activities in the disputed waters.

Senator Vicente Sotto III (Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Vicente Sotto III
(Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)

“The Committee on National Defense headed by Senator [Gregorio] Honasan — as far as I know and this is all that I can say about the issue — is very careful and very cautious about any inquiry into the effect, because we might be pre-empting moves by the Department of National Defense,” Sotto told reporters.

“So, as much as possible, ‘wag na muna…Baka may mga librong mabuksan o may mga kilos na mabuksan na hindi dapat malaman ng iba muna (So, as much as possible, let’s not investigate in the meantime. We might open and know moves that should be kept confidential first),” he added.

Members of the Senate minority have filed a number of resolutions calling for an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into reports of China’s militarization of the WPS, such as its recent deployment of missile systems over the Philippines-claimed reefs in Spratlys Islands.

Appeals mount further following reports of the alleged harassment by Chinese coast guards to Filipino fishers in the Scarborough Shoal.

While not thumbing down proposals for a Senate probe, Sotto explained that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has yet to brief senators on the issue.

“Hindi rin makakabigay ng briefing at this point, eh. Kaya gusto nila closed door. Kasi nga ayaw nilang ma-telegraph muna ang kilos ng gobyerno at malalaman ng mga hindi mga Pilipino (The DFA could not provide briefings at this point. That’s why they want it closed-door. They don’t want to divulge the moves of the government because non-Filipinos might know),” he said.