Senators seek probe into militarization in South China Sea

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 30) — Eight senators are calling for a probe into the increasing militarization of China in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.

Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon and fellow Senators Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Leila de Lima signed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 761 on Wednesday.

The senators also urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to file a diplomatic protest against China.

"The Government of the Philippines must defend the country's territories against the alarming expansion of military presence of PRC (People's Republic of China) in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea," read the resolution.

It added that if the government will not file a diplomatic protest against China, it may mean it is abandoning "our claim over the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, which has been upheld by the Permanent Court of Arbitration."

In a landmark ruling on July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague awarded to the Philippines areas in the South China Sea that lie within the country's 200-mile exclusive economic zone, based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), an international treaty both the Philippines and China had signed. China has refused to acknowledge the arbitral ruling and continues to claim the South China Sea in its entirety.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said the country cannot afford to go to war against China, but has promised to bring up the arbitral ruling with the Asian giant during his term.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told congressmen on Wednesday that China further assured that the deployment of long-range missiles on artificial islands are for defense purposes only and are not directed at the Philippines.

He said Western countries, particularly the U.S., are the targets of China's intercontinental ballistic missiles in the South China Sea, having a range of 11,000 k.m. to 13,000 k.m.