Sen. Hontiveros seeks probe into ‘gentleman’s agreement’

Sen. Hontiveros seeks probe into ‘gentleman’s agreement’
AP Photo

SENATOR Risa Hontiveros wants to investigate the claim of a "gentleman's agreement" involving the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte and the Chinese government, which restricted the repair and rehabilitation of the BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal.

Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution No. 982, which stressed that if the agreement is confirmed to be true, it would be tantamount to a surrender of Philippine sovereignty and, in the words of former Philippine Navy flag officer-in-command Eduardo Santos, "an act of treason."

"This 'gentleman's agreement' is treasonous. While China, in any case, will most likely attack our resupply missions en route to Ayungin, this sham of an agreement only gave Beijing more ammunition to assert her baseless claims. Kung totoo ang kasunduan, mukhang isinuko nga ni Duterte ang teritoryo ng Pilipinas," the senator said.

The resolution also stated that the National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said that it was not aware of such an agreement. Malaya further said that Atty. Harry Roque, who revealed this so-called agreement, should explain the circumstances of the deal and how it was brokered, considering its implications for national security.

"Pati pambansang seguridad natin nalagay sa pahamak dahil sa walang-dangal na 'gentleman's agreement' na yan. China is already all around us - sa telecoms, sa national grid, sa karagatan - at mas lalo lang pinalakas ni Duterte ang Tsina sa kasunduang di umanong pinasukan niya," the senator said.

"It is our duty to fortify the BRP Sierra Madre. Without it on Ayungin, we effectively give way for China to illegally occupy what is ours. If we stop reinforcing the Sierra Madre, we not only lose a crucial, strategic outpost, but also fail to defend our sovereignty," Hontiveros said.

Roque said that Duterte had a verbal agreement with the Chinese government that both countries would respect the status quo in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

In a television interview, Roque said this means that there would be no improvements made as far as the WPS is concerned, including the BRP Sierra Madre, which was deliberately grounded in Ayungin Shoal by the Philippine government in 1991 to signify its sovereignty and territorial rights in the area amid China’s claims.

“Ito’y oral (agreement) sa panahon ni Presidente Duterte na ang parehong panig, ang Tsina at Pilipinas ay rerespetuhin ang status quo, ibig sabihin kung ano ‘yung naroroon na walang dagdag, walang bawas,” he said.

“Doon sa usapin na 'yon, lumabas na kaya nila winater cannon ay dahil sa kasunduan ng status quo, hindi dapat magpadala ng mga materyales for repair ng BRP Sierra Madre,” he added.

Roque said under the agreement, the Philippines would only be allowed to bring food and water.

However, Roque clarified that there was no agreement between Duterte and the Chinese government that the BRP Sierra Madre would be removed from Ayungin Shoal. RGL with reports from SNS

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