China now 'desperate,' intervening in PH politics, says solon

China now ‘desperate,’ intervening in PH politics, says solon

/ 02:12 PM May 14, 2024

China has become desperate in its goal of influencing the country and has resorted to interfering in local politics by spreading misinformation, 1-Rider party-list Rep. Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez said on Tuesday.

Rep. Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez. Photo from 1-Rider Party-List’s Facebook page.

MANILA, Philippines — China has become desperate in its goal of influencing the country and has resorted to interfering in local politics by spreading misinformation, 1-Rider party-list Rep. Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez said on Tuesday.

During a press briefing at the Batasang Pambansa complex, Gutierrez and other lawmakers were asked about the recent Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) statements vowing to probe foreign diplomats linked to illegal acts, like the alleged wiretapping of a military official during a call on the supposed agreement on managing the disputed Ayungin Shoal.

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Gutierrez said he supports the DFA’s initiative but noted that this also shows the extent to which China would go to influence the country.

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“On an official stand, yes we support the move by the DFA, definitely they have to do this, if you’ve been following this issue [… ] our Department of National Defense, the security agencies, and the National Security Council have consistently denied agreeing to a new model or to any gentleman’s agreement on Ayungin Shoal,” Gutierrez said.

“So we can see — this is my personal opinion — China has become desperate, because what kind of a foreign supposed state would try to intervene in our local politics by introducing these fake or manipulated information?  To the point that when they cannot secure a formal agreement, they will try to play public perception by using unauthorized, wiretapped conversations — if it’s even real,” he added.

Gutierrez warned that China may not stop until the Philippine government adheres to its desires.

“This issue po, like I said, the foremost issue of foreign policy is this issue of the West Philippine Sea with China.  And it seems to me they will stop at nothing to sway us towards their way,” he said.

“So with that po — I don’t know if I can speak for everyone else — but we fully support the DFA in this investigation and I hope that they would take the appropriate action regarding the Chinese narrative,” he added.

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On Monday, DFA vowed to investigate and take the necessary action against foreign diplomats linked to illegal activities — a week after the Chinese Embassy claimed to have a recording of a phone call where a military official supposedly agreed in January to Beijing’s demands.

It was former President Rodrigo Duterte’s former presidential spokesperson, lawyer Harry Roque, who confirmed to reporters last March 27 that Duterte and China had a deal to maintain the status quo in the Ayungin Shoal.

READ: Sara Duterte’s ‘silence’ on China’s hostility in West PH Sea hit

Roque mentioned this when asked why China has been so aggressive when Philippine vessels conduct resupply missions to troops stationed in BRP Sierra Madre, a Navy ship deliberately ran aground Ayungin Shoal.

The former spokesperson surmised that China may have been acting this way because the Philippines is no longer maintaining the agreement. However, he himself admitted that the deal was non-binding and could not apply under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s term.

READ: Ex-President Duterte, China had deal to keep WPS status quo – Roque

Roque’s claim was eventually countered by another former Duterte spokesperson, ex-chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo, who said the former president did not enter into such an agreement with China.

Duterte eventually admitted that there was a status quo gentleman’s agreement with China about not repairing BRP Sierra Madre.

READ: Ex-president Duterte, China confirm pact not to repair PH outpost

After that, China claimed that a new model on the gentleman’s agreement had been reached under the Marcos administration, but officials like Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and National Security Adviser Eduardo Año have denied this, accusing China of disinformation.

Both Teodoro and Año also asked the DFA to expel the Chinese diplomats who violated Philippine laws against wiretapping as well as international diplomatic protocol.

READ: Año: Expel those behind China embassy ‘new model’ recording from PH

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China maintains ownership of most of the WPS through its nine-dash line claim, but the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 said the Philippines has exclusive rights to the WPS, as China has no historical or legal basis to back up its claims.

Under Marcos’ term, the Philippines has taken a stronger stance in terms of defending the WPS.  In early April, Marcos participated in the first-ever trilateral summit between the Philippines, US, and Japan, where the WPS issue was discussed — with the three leaders asking China to stop using its Coast Guard in a coercive manner.

TAGS: China, Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez

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