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Bokya pala! Cayetano admits zero funding for asserting PH claims in South China Sea

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The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has not allocated a single cent to assert the Philippines’ claims over the South China Sea for 2018 despite winning an arbitral ruling.

The absence of funds for the assertion and defense of Philippine sovereignty in the South China Sea was discovered during the House committee on appropriations’ deliberation on the DFA’s proposed P19.57-billion budget for next year.

“If you give us a few days, we’ll give a specific proposal,” Cayetano replied in response to the question on funding for the assertion of Philippine sovereignty by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.

When committee chairman Rep. Karlo Nograles told Cayetano to “come up with a sensible and ultimately advantageous plan” to address the maritime dispute, the DFA Secretary replied: “We will do our job whether you add a peso or not. Of course the more resources you give us, the more we can assert not only our rights but develop the institutional memory and institutional strength in fighting for our claims.”

The Philippines in 2016 won an arbitration case against China, with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands invalidating Beijing’s sweeping claims over the South China Sea.

Cayetano said the DFA has been suffering from lack of funds since 2014, such as the budget for intelligence.

“I’ve been told now that the intelligence funds are purely for military so we didn’t appeal that anymore,” he said.