THE Philippines will likely rescind agreements with China if these are found to be detrimental to national security, Malacañang said yesterday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said this after the Inquirer reported earlier this week Chinese investors are eyeing the islands of Fuga in Cagayan province, and adjacent Grande and Chiquita in Subic Bay, Zambales as investment hubs.
These are part of the $12.16-billion investments secured by the Philippines during President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Beijing in April during the second Belt and Road Initiative forum.
Security experts said China may eventually use the islands to support its geopolitical agenda in the Pacific if the investment progressed.
But if the Department of National Defense finds the possible investments as a matter of “security concern”, Panelo said the government may cancel the agreement.
“Hindi tayo papayag, kung security threat e. Yung agreement naman ay agreement to agree palang ‘yun,” said Panelo.
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros has filed a resolution calling on the Senate to probe the possible Chinese investment’s maritime and security implications to the country.
“Amid China’s aggressive behavior in the West Philippine Sea, it is baffling that the Duterte government allowed this to happen. These are no ordinary islands. These parcels of land are strategic maritime fronts that play a significant role in our military history, which only proves how invaluable they are to our national security,” said Hontiveros.
But Panelo said Hontiveros’ claim is “premature” as the government has yet to allow the supposed investments.
“Masyado naman premature, allowed agad e hindi pa nga. ‘Di ba proposal pa lang, gusto pa lang nilang mag-invest,” Panelo said when asked to comment on Hontiveros’ move.
Nonetheless, the Palace official said looking into the matter is well within the Senate’s authority.
“Trabaho naman nila ‘yun. The Senate has its duty to investigate in aid of legislation any matter that it feels has to undergo scrutiny,” Panelo said.
China has been pushing for its expansive claims in the South China Sea, refusing to recognize the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) that invalidated its nine-dash line feature which claims virtually the entire South China Sea.
Meanwhile, Duterte has chosen to shelve the PCA ruling in exchange for Chinese economic perks to help fund his administration’s infrastructure projects.