Press Release
September 7, 2011


Domingo Lee, a non-career nominee as ambassador to the People's Republic of China, faces tough questioning from members of the Commission on Appointments foreign affairs committee.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, committee chair, said that Lee's confirmation hearing might extend to two or more sessions, because of intensive interpellation from senators and possibly from representatives.

Lee is a Chinese businessman who has no foreign service experience, except as ambassador at-large during the term of President Corazon Aquino when he negotiated for Filipino nationals in Taiwan.

Answering Senate media questions, Santiago said that one of the criticisms against Lee, 76, is his advanced age, which might cast doubt on his ability to handle the rigors of his job.

Another criticism, according to Santiago, is that Lee is supposedly a card-holding member of the Kuomintang party of Taiwan.

But those in favor of Lee's nomination countered that it would actually be an asset for Lee, because Chinese leaders are said to favor the Kuomintang party and its one-China policy.

To the criticism that he lacks diplomatic experience, Lee answered that as ambassador at-large, Pres. Cory Aquino sent him to Taiwan for quiet diplomacy to prevent the mass deportation of thousands of Filipino OFWs.

The interpellation was started by Sen. Sergio Osmeña who said that he will raise questions with respect to the RP-China dispute on the Spratley Islands, the joint marine seismic undertaking which expired in 2008, the Filipinos convicted of drug trafficking in China, questionable RP-China business deals like ZTE, North rail, and large-sale farming.

Other senators present at the hearing who will reportedly interpellate after Osmeña were Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

Lee held the following positions in private business: chair of the board and president, New Dynasty International; chair of the board and CEO, Philippine Banking Corp.; adviser, Tower Steel Corp.; director, San Miguel Corp.; adviser, Metrobank Foundation; and senior adviser, Philippine Savings Bank.

At the same hearing, the Chinese national Joseph Wong, who bears a British passport and is married to a Filipina, appeared and thru his wife, appealed for clemency in the face of Santiago's show-cause order.

Santiago wanted to cite Wong for contempt because he wanted to oppose the nomination of DFA Sec. Albert del Rosario, even though the latter had nothing to do with the business transaction where Wong claimed he lost money.

Showing mercy to the wife who apologized on the ground that her husband is not conversant with English and Filipino Santiago said she would no longer site Wong for contempt for appearing on a TV station and threatening to file a complaint against her with the Senate ethics committee.

Wong did not file his complaint, but after he was forgiven by Santiago, he again told the Senate media that he would still file the complaint.

When informed of Wong's turnaround, Santiago said: "I think he is a medical basket case. But if he continues to harass me, I shall be forced to seek his deportation. I am restraining myself only because of pity for his cancer-stricken wife."

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