No reason for Belmonte to turn down West PH Sea panel chair–Quimbo
Marikina Rep. Romero “Miro” Quimbo on Wednesday said there is no reason for his Liberal party-mate former Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to turn down the offer to chair the House special committee on the West Philippine Sea.
During the “Ugnayan sa Batasan” press briefing, Quimbo, a deputy Speaker for the Liberal Party, said the committee was formed by the leadership of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in light of the Philippines’ victory in its maritime dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea.
“It’s a special committee, not a standing committee. West Philippine Sea, primarily for advocacy dun sa arbitration na napanalunan natin, para maitulak rito (of the arbitration case we have won, to pursue it here),” Quimbo said.
Quimbo said he saw no other reason for Belmonte to refuse the offer.
“Wala akong nakikitang dahilan para ito’y kaniyang tanggihan (I don’t see any reason why he should turn this down),” Quimbo said.
Quimbo said Belmonte may use his experience as part of the Philippine delegation to the Hague hearing of the maritime case to chair the committee envisioned to develop diplomatic relations with neighboring countries affected by the maritime dispute.
Quimbo said Belmonte also has personal relationships with prime ministers and parliamentary members in the neighboring Asean countries.
“Generally, ang dahilan dun ay para tingnan kung papaano makakatulong ang Kongreso sa pagpapalawig ng interes ng bayan ng Pilipinas, kung paano pangangalagaan ito at kung paano makikitungo sa ibang mga bansa,” Quimbo said.
(Generally, the reason behind it is to see how the Congress can help in pursuing the interests on the Philippines, how to nurture it and how to deal with other countries.)
“It’s really developing our relationships with our neighbors, particularly with other leaders when it comes to coming up with a single stance on the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea,” he added.
In a text message, Belmonte refused to confirm if he had accepted the offer, adding that he would still think it over.
“I”m not aware I was offered. No expectation… Sounds challenging. Pag-isipan ko (I’m still thinking about it),” Belmonte said.
Speaker Alvarez however confirmed that the special committee post was offered to his predecessor.
In its historic decision, the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal in the Hague ruled that China’s historic nine-dash line claiming almost all the South China Sea has no historic and legal basis and that the West Philippine Sea falls within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Belmonte as a Liberal Party vice chair was offered the committee chairperson as a perk after the erstwhile administration party aligned with the administration coalition in Congress led by President Rodrigo Duterte’s Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan. CDG
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