MANILA - Sen. Richard Gordon on Wednesday urged Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to summon the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines days after hundreds of Chinese militia ships were seen moored in West Philippine Sea.
Gordon cautioned President Rodrigo Duterte against talking to the Chinese ambassador, saying the envoy would just reiterate China's official policy when questioned about the presence of their ships in Philippine waters.
"[It is] in effect a rebuff to His Excellency The President of the Republic of the Philippines. Eh di mukha tayong basang sisiw (We'll appear lame)," Gordon said in a tweet.
The Chinese Embassy earlier denied allegations that some 220 Chinese maritime militia vessels were spotted near Julian Felipe Reef near Palawan, but Sen. Risa Hontiveros said "China should stop twisting the truth."
"China is gaslighting us. Pinapalabas ng Tsina na tayo ay nagha-hallucinate," Hontiveros said in a statement.
(China is making it appear that we are hallucinating.)
"Nakakapagod ang patuloy nilang pagbabaluktot ng katotohanan para sa sarili nilang interes. China has stolen from us, and now she is lying to us," she said.
(Their continuous twisting of the truth for their own interest is tiresome.)
The sighting of hundreds of Chinese vessels came from a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) report, which noted that the ships were moored within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf (CS), over which the Philippines owns exclusive right to use resources, including fish, oil and natural gas.
It would be good for China to "contribute to peace and stability in the region, and not create an impression of a bullying neighbor," Gordon said in a separate statement.
"The Chinese government’s coercive and destabilizing actions in the West Philippine sea and the South China sea are acts that belie its pronouncements of friendship and goodwill and affinity with the Filipino people," he said.
Earlier this week, Locsin said the Philippines would be filing a diplomatic protest against China over the issue.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines also released a statement, saying the military would "not renege from our commitment to protect and defend our maritime interest within the bounds of the law."
The mooring of 220 Chinese ships near Palawan is the latest allegation of China's incursion in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
In 2016, a Hague court invalidated China's sweeping claims in the South China Sea - a strategic waterway where about $3 billion in goods pass annually - but Asia's largest economy snubbed the ruling and continued its reclamation efforts in the disputed waters.
Aside from the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam also have overlapping claims with China in the South China Sea.