DFA urged to file protest over China's war threat

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan urged newly-appointed Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano to file a diplomatic protest against China for threatening war against the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute.

Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party (LP), issued the statement on Sunday, May 21, in reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping's reported remarks to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte on Friday, May 19, quoted Xi as saying that China will go to war if the Philippines "forces the issue" of the arbitral ruling on the South China Sea, which the Philippines won in July 2016.

"Did China really threaten the Philippines with war after President Duterte asserted the Southeast Asian nation's sovereignty over disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea? If so, then Foreign Affairs Secretary Cayetano should issue a diplomatic protest for this threat," Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan's statement also comes a day after Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the Philippines can sue China for making such a threat.

The senator also said the LP supports Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV's Senate Resolution 158, which called on the Senate committees on foreign relations and economic affairs to conduct a hearing on the government's foreign policy direction related to protecting the country's national interest.

"The hearing should tackle not only this issue, but also the details of the $24-billion loans and investments recently sealed with China, as well as the Duterte administration's decision to reject aid from the European Union (EU)," Pangilinan added.

The Philippines' decision to no longer accept EU grants would affect around 250 million euros or P13.85 billion worth of aid.

Senators have urged Duterte to reconsider his decision. – Rappler.com