Press Release
July 11, 2018


On the eve of the second-year anniversary of the country's historic victory before the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague on the West Philippine Sea, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros filed a resolution calling on the Senate to conduct a "foreign policy audit" to review the Duterte administration's response to Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

Senate Resolution No. 786, introduced by Hontiveros, is directing the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to conduct a foreign policy audit to scrutinize and review the diplomatic protests lodged by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) against the People's Republic of China with respect to China's actions in the West Philippine Sea.

"I challenge the DFA to bare its so-called 50-100 diplomatic protests against China, which the Foreign Affairs Secretary claims to have lodged. The people have the right to be informed. Present proof, or they didn't happen," Hontiveros said.

"Amid the numerous threats to and violations of our national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Duterte government's apparent subservient relationship with China, its policy of silence and secrecy regarding its foreign policy, as well as the harassment of our small fisherfolk, we demand transparency and integrity in the government's foreign policy framework and implementation," Hontiveros said.

It was reported that in a briefing in May 2018, DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano stated that the Philippines has filed "several dozens, maybe 50-100 " diplomatic protests against the People's Republic of China for its incursions in disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea. However, when pressed to explain further and to identify these protests, Cayetano refused to elaborate.

Hontiveros explained that the public is aware of only one instance when the DFA issued a note verbale to protest China's installation of missile systems on three man-made islands in the Spratly Islands and the harassment by the Chinese Navy of Philippine Navy boats resupplying troops on Ayungin Shoal on 11 May.

"How about the 99 other diplomatic protests? Are they even real? If so, what is the nature of these diplomatic actions? What platforms and channels were used? Were they compliant with the spirit of the Hague ruling? When were they filed? What was the response of China?" Hontiveros asked.

Hontiveros said that while diplomatic secrets do not need to be disclosed in minute detail, there is value in informing the public of diplomatic protests lodged by the government, and this can help pressure foreign governments to conform to international commitments and norms.

"Transparency makes for good foreign policy. On the contrary, total silence raises suspicion and discourages public confidence. Considering that the Philippine Senate has been granted by the Constitution the power to ratify treaties and in line with its check and balance powers, it has material interest in ensuring that the foreign policy adopted by the Executive is in the best interest of Filipino citizens," Hontiveros said.

News Latest News Feed