MANILA - (UPDATE) Lawmakers on Thursday slammed the decision of the executive branch to air Tagalog-dubbed Chinese shows on state-run channel PTV.
"It's such a shameless thing for a People's TV (PTV) network to do," Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said in a statement.
Villarin noted that the mandate of the government channel is to "promote news relevant to the daily lives of Filipinos" and to "focus on stories and information that deepens our Filipino language, culture and arts."
"If these Chinese shows are funded from the recent grant of the Chinese government, then PTV 4 now becomes the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party," Villarin said.
Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said the contract between the channel and its counterpart in China should be scrutinized.
"It's a subtle way of trying to influence Philippine society in endearing themselves to China. We need to dig deeper into the contract," he said.
The Magdalo party-list meanwhile claimed that the airing of Chinese shows on the state television is a clear display of the Duterte administration's "surrender" to China.
"This is part of the soft power strategy of China which seeks to influence and infiltrate Filipinos through economic, political, and now cultural tools," it said in a statement.
The showing of Chinese shows on PTV is the government's latest act to improve ties between Beijing and Manila, an endeavor President Rodrigo Duterte started since he rose to power in 2016.
Ties between the Philippine and China had soured after Manila initiated an arbitration case against Beijing for overlapping claims in territories in the South China Sea.
The Philippines won the case, with the arbitral tribunal deciding in July 2016 that China's nine-dash line claim over nearly all of the South China Sea was invalid. China has ignored the ruling and instead ramped up militarization and island-building activities in the disputed waters.
Still, Duterte has pursued improved economic and defense ties with China, shelving the Philippines' arbitral victory while turning away from the country's long-standing alliance with the United States.