Drilon urges review of admin policy on China amid sea row | Inquirer News
‘Appeasement and Accommodation’

Drilon urges review of admin policy on China amid sea row

/ 05:04 AM June 15, 2018

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday urged the Duterte administration to review its “policy of appeasement and accommodation” toward China, as the supposed closer ties between Manila and Beijing had not resulted in much economic benefits for the country.

Drilon said the administration should be more assertive about the Philippines’ rights in the South China Sea, like Vietnam, which, according to him, gets more economically from China despite an aggressive stance in its territorial dispute with China in the strategic waterway.

Speaking at a news forum in the Senate, the senator said China had continued to militarize the South China Sea, bullied Filipino fishermen, and destroyed corals at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal despite President Duterte’s policy not to confront Beijing about their maritime dispute.


Less than stellar results


Drilon said the President had chosen a friendly policy so that the country’s economy could receive a boost from China, but the stance had produced less than stellar results.

Drilon said foreign direct investments (FDI) from China in 2017 were “very minimal” at $31 million.

In contrast, FDI from Japan amounted to $600 million, while investments from the United States amounted to $160 million. Vietnam got $2.17 billion in FDI from China during the same period.

In tourism, Vietnam recorded 4 million Chinese tourists in 2017. In contrast, the Philippines got only 968,447 Chinese visitors last year, Drilon said.

“This indicates that the appeasement of China does not necessarily result in better economic relations with China, as shown by the data,” he said.

“On the other hand, the more aggressive assertion of Vietnam of its rights in the South China Sea has not resulted in a diminished economic relation with China. On the other hand, they have benefited.”


Getting worse

The situation is getting worse in the Philippines, with a Chinese military plane landing in Davao City without the knowledge of the defense secretary, Drilon said.

“This is why we should be more assertive,” he added.

Drilon said Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano’s claim that he had filed a hundred protests against China was not believable.

He said those saying the Philippines should just continue talking with China must look at how China had behaved in the past, and once more cited the experience of Vietnam.

“The empirical evidence insofar as Vietnam is concerned indicates that China respects you when you assert your rights as a nation and trade relations are not prejudiced, even if you assert your rights as a country,” he said.

The Philippines should keep filing protests for certain incidents, such as the harassment of Filipino fishermen at Panatag Shoal, or bring China’s actions to the attention of international bodies, he said.

Senate inquiry

Drilon also said the Senate minority would call on Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the foreign relations committee, to hold hearings on China’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea, the subject of several resolutions.

“We are making the call addressed to the chair of the committee to assert the Senate’s role as a partner in the conduct of foreign affairs. The Senate lead should take a serious look at this and assert the role of the Senate in this area,” he said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the filing of a new arbitration case against China for the destruction of coral reefs should be a second to the last option, and agreed with the administration tack of using diplomatic channels first to resolve issues with Beijing.

“When dealing with bilateral relations with any country, there couldn’t be a better option than through diplomatic means; not only because it is the more practical approach or mechanism to resolve issues given the present circumstances, but also the correct one,” Lacson said.

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He said an arbitration case should be the second to the last resort. The last option is going to war to China, he added.

TAGS: maritime row, sea dispute

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