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Insensitive! Chinese ambassador’s presence at Independence Day ceremony irks Hontiveros

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by Xave Gregorio

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros found the presence of Chinese ambassador Zhao Jinhua at the Independence Day celebration at Kawit, Cavite “very insensitive,” amid China’s expansion and militarization of the West Philippine Sea.

“Hindi ko alam kung bakit nakatayo pa ang Chinese ambassador sa tabi ng ating Presidente habang itinataas ang wataway, bakit nakikipag-usap pa sa ating Defense secretary – napaka-insensitive talaga ng mga ganon sa kasalukuyang panahon,” Hontiveros said Wednesday (June 13) at the weekly Kapihan sa Senado.

Zhao spoke with President Rodrigo Duterte at the Independence Day celebration in Kawit, Cavite and vowed to discipline “bad apples” in the Chinese Coast Guard, whose personnel have been caught on video taking fish from Filipino fishermen.

However, Hontiveros said this is not enough as the Philippines should file a formal complaint against China and possibly even a new case before the arbitral tribunal.

“Itong pag-board ng Filipino fishing boats sa isang area ang Panatag Shoal na kahit ‘yung Hague Tribunal ang nagsabing may traditional joint fishing rights ang mga Pinoy at ang mga Tsino diyan. Eh talagang karapatdapat na maireklamo,” she said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano previously said in a House inquiry that the Philippines has lodged 50 to 100 diplomatic protests against China since Duterte came into power, but defined diplomatic protests to mean as any expression of dissent – even verbal.

Hontiveros said this should be verified if it is true or mere “exaggeration” or just the administration’s “imagination.”

“Kailangan sabihin nila ng kongkreto at detalyado sa publiko kung anu-ano ba talaga itong diplomatic actions na isinagawa ninyo?” she said.

The opposition senator is pushing for a foreign policy audit of the Duterte administration to find out what actions have been taken against China.