Minority senators seek probe on Chinese military aircraft landings

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 10) — Minority senators filed a resolution on Monday seeking to probe on the landings of Chinese military planes in Davao City and to enact measures that will strengthen the national security.

Speaking to the CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday, Senator Risa Hontiveros, one of the authors of Senate Resolution 779, said the Philippines does not have existing treaty with China that provided guidelines for the landings of Chinese military aircraft at the Davao International Airport on June 8 and 24.

Hontiveros said the Armed Forces of the Philippines was not informed before the landings. She added those were "personal favor granted by the President to China."

"It's not just civilian offices of government that must manage or regulate such landings," Hontiveros told CNN Philippines' The Source. "That very process has to be designed, enshrined, or embedded in an agreement."

Hontiveros filed the resolution with Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Leila De Lima, Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan and Antonio Trillanes IV.

Senators Loren Legarda and Gringo Honasan, who chair the Committees and Foreign Relations and National Defense, expressed their openness to hearing the issue, Hontiveros said.

"Hiling din po namin iyan sa minority sa pamamagitan ng Minority Leader Frank Drilon na ipakiusap, lalo na kay Senate President Tito (Sotto) itong mga resolusyon," she said.

[Translation: Through Minority Leader Frank Drilon, we are also asking Senate President Tito (Sotto) to hear these resolutions.]

The Palace called the landings of Chinese planes as "technical stops", but many have raised apprehension due to China's growing military presence in the disputed South China Sea.

Probe on China foreign policy, TV shows

The resolution is the latest among the efforts to look into the government's foreign policy on China.

Hontiveros noted the "opaqueness of foreign policy with China," saying that the government was not transparent on the diplomatic protests. She cited the Chinese Coast Guard taking Filipino fishermen's catch, the degradation of marine resources in the West Philippine Sea, and continued militarization on the disputed islands.

"Sabi ni Sec. Cayetano, 50 to 100 diplomatic protests na daw ang nagawa nila," said Hontiveros. "What are these at ano ang mga results that these have generated?"

[Translation: Sec. Cayetano said they made 50 to 100 diplomatic protests. What are these, and what results did they generate?]

Cayetano did not give details on the protests supposedly filed by the government. He, however, maintained that raising concerns during a meeting also counts as a protest.

The opposition senators also filed Resolution 780, which directs the Public Information and Mass Media Committee to conduct an inquiry on the airing of Chinese television shows on the state channel, People's Television Network (PTV). The resolution is toward "ensuring due exercise of [PTV's] mandate as an instrument in advancing the Filipino identity."