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Senate defers hearing on China dispute due to security concerns

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Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday practically admittedthat the Senate is holding off any called inquiries concerning the territorial disputes with China.

But there is a serious reason behind this and this is to prevent any possible leakage of information that may end up in the hands of foreign entities, he said.

“(Kaya) hindi rin makakabigay ng briefing at this point eh, (kahit) gusto nila closed door. Kasi nga ayaw nilang ma- telegraph muna ang kilos ng gobyerno at malalaman ng mga hindi mga Pilipino,” Sotto, referring security and defense officials, said.

The Senate chief was prompted to give this as an explanation when reporters, in an interview, raised the “complaints” aired by those in the minority bloc on the apparent lack of any action on the resolutions pending before the committees on foreign relations and national defense in alleged intrusion of China into the country’s territorial waters.

The most recent resolution filed had two members of the majority bloc – Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and former upper chamberleader, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III – echoing the call of the minority senators in pressing for probe into the increasing militarization of China in the West Philippine Sea and South China

“Ang committee on national defense headed by Sen. (Gregorio) Honasan, as far as I know and this is all that I can say about the issue, is very careful and very cautious about any inquiry into the effect because we might be pre-empting moves by the DND (Department of National Defense),” Sotto said.

This, even if Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano said that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is willing to hold a closed-door briefing with the senators, Sotto said.

“So as much as possible, ‘wag na muna. Baka may mga librong mabuksan eh o may mga kilos na mabuksan na hindi dapat malaman ng iba muna,” he said.

But Sotto assured that there’s still a chance that hearings or briefings will be conducted in the future.