“We are alarmed by the admission of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that it has allowed China to conduct maritime research in Benham Rise. We demand full transparency of the deal,” Liberal Party said in a statement released by Senator Francis Pangilinan.
Several questions were also brought up in the statement. “What will the country stand to gain from this marine scientific research? Why do we need to partner with China? Can’t the Philippines do it on its own? What is in store for China after the research? How long will this be carried out, and what will be the coverage of the research? What are the mechanisms and guidelines in place in the conduct of the activity?”
“Most importantly, what would be the impact of such joint undertaking on the Philippines’ national interest and security?” added in the statement.
“We raise these queries because history and experience tell us that China is not exactly the most trustworthy partner for such an activity. We cannot turn a blind eye to past reports about China’s bullying of our local fishermen and its constant patrolling of disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea,” it added.
The former ruling party also noted that amid protest of the Philippines and other claimant nations, China continued its military build-up and aggressive infrastructure projects in West Philippine Sea that are subject of dispute.
“The administration should be transparent in its dealings with China to allay fears of the people that it is betraying our national sovereignty and patrimony,” it added.