Senator seeks PH action on China's threat of 'nuclear war'

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A report from a United States' think-tank said Beijing landed the bomber planes on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands.

Updated to include statements from the DFA.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 20) — A lawmaker raised the alarm over reports that China has landed nuclear-capable bombers in the South China Sea, and urged the country to take the matter all the way to the United Nations.

In a statement Sunday, Senator Risa Hontiveros said the country must review its bilateral relationship with China, adding, "We can't call a country that robs us of our islands and threatens us with nuclear war a friend."

The senator issued the statement following a report from Chinese state news agency Xinhua, stating the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force sent a group of H-6K bombers to conduct drills in its "southern waters," military sources told them.

A report from a United States think-tank on Friday said Beijing landed the bomber planes on Woody Island in the disputed Paracel Islands.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it is closely monitoring developments in the South China Sea.

"We are taking the appropriate diplomatic action necessary to protect our claims and will continue to do so in the future," the DFA said in a statement Monday.

Hontiveros said the location of the nuclear-capable bombers places the country within striking distance of the bombers.

"China has virtually threatened us with nuclear war over the West Philippine Sea. This is unacceptable," she said. "This is a serious threat to the lives of our citizens, an assault on our Constitution and a direct violation of internationally recognized treaties to which we are a signatory."

Hontiveros said the country "must sponsor a resolution" before the UN to condemn the threat of nuclear war by China, and for the government to follow the ruling set by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitral tribunal.

The UNCLOS is an international agreement that governs the seas, which the Philippines signed in 1984 and which China signed in 1996.

Magdalo Party-List Rep. Gary Alejano also spoke on the issue Sunday, saying the presence of the bombers is proof of China strengthening its forces in disputed waters.

He added the range that can be covered by the bombers "practically covers the entire Philippine territory and should definitely cause alarm."

"We are seeing a clear and present danger," Alejano said in a statement.

Under the Constitution, the Philippines "adopts and pursues a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory."

Alejano, a member of the House Committee on National Defense and Security, added the issue of Chinese militarization in the South China Sea is a concern that affects many countries, and the Philippines was acting "selfishly" and "foolishly" by ignoring the moves of China.

Both lawmakers called on President Rodrigo Duterte to do more to protect the country.

Alejano said the country's inaction and "subservience" to China risks not the just the Philippines, but other nations as well.

"It is a shame and utter disappointment that we have a President who only thinks of protecting his reins to power, instead of protecting his people," he said.

Hontiveros, meanwhile, said: "I challenge President Duterte and his foreign affairs officials to end their subservience to China and muster the necessary political courage to stand up to protect our national sovereignty and the lives of our citizens."

CNN Philippines' Chad de Guzman contributed to this report.