Solon hits PH ‘subservience’ to China

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano

MANILA — What good faith?

An opposition lawmaker on Wednesday issued a stinging criticism of the Duterte administration’s “subservience” to China after the presidential spokesperson said there was no breach of “good faith” in the latter’s actions on Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reef in the South China Sea.

“Good faith has long been breached by China and this continues up to now,” said Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, a former eenegade Marine captain.

He slammed presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s statement that “there was still no breach of the good faith obligation for as long as China has not embarked on new reclamations” in the disputed area.

Roque made the statement in a Palace briefing on Tuesday in response to reports that China had built a 2.8-kilometer long runway on Kagitingan Reef.

Alejano said China had always been “double-faced” in its public statements and actions.

“China says one thing in public, but does another on the ground,” he said.

The Asian superpower’s aggressive reclamation activities since 2012 and increasing militarization [of islands] in the West Philippine Sea “were testaments to a double-faced China.”

“Unfortunately, the Duterte administration—our government itself—keeps on justifying China’s actions, proving its subservience to the latter,” said Alejano, adding this had weakened the Philippines’ territorial claims and national security.

Kagitingan Reef is within the Philippine economic zone. According to reports, China had developed it into an air base complete with support facilities. More than 200 soldiers were also said to be stationed there.

Roque on Tuesday said China was still showing good faith because it had not made new reclamations or built military facilities on man-made islands.

“When we invoke the good faith of China, it is against making further reclamations and not making further works on islands that it had already reclaimed,” he said.

Roque, however, agreed with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that the country should file a diplomatic protest if China was indeed building military facilities on Kagitingan Reef.

“I know for a fact that the Chinese government said some time ago that they [would] not… militarize those reclaimed [reefs],” Lorenzana told reporters, also on Tuesday.

“If it is true and we can prove that they have been putting soldiers and weapons [there], then it will be a violation of what they said,” he added.