MANILA - Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday urged the government anew to look into China's construction of artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea.
A year after filing a resolution questioning Chinese construction and dredging in areas within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone, Hontiveros said China continued to impinge on the Philippines' sovereignty.
"Sino ang nang-traydor sa mga Pilipino? May nagbenta ba ng mga teritoryo natin? (Who betrayed the Filipinos? Are there people who are selling our territories?) We need to find out," the senator said in a statement.
"We need to create measures to prevent acts inimical to our national security, including identifying and penalizing Filipinos colluding or collaborating with foreign powers to militarize the WPS," she said.
Hontiveros said China's speed in constructing man-made islets in the disputed waterway is both angering and concerning.
"I am positive that the more we could look into this issue, the more that we would be able to know how to ultimately oblige China to pay for her shameless adventurism," she said.
"We need to dismantle these structures that occupy the territories we claim, and while doing so, we must ensure that Filipinos, who may have been in cahoots with the Chinese government in building these structures, will pay for their treachery," she said.
Hontiveros did not mention specific politicians or businessmen allegedly in cahoots with China, but last year, the senator slammed the national government for keeping deals with Chinese companies that allegedly took part in illegal reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that President Rodrigo Duterte chose to keep the deals because the Philippines "needs investors from China."
Before being elected as president in 2016, Duterte promised to ride a jetski to one of the China-built artificial islands to assert the country's claim in the area.
But after ascending to power, he forged closer ties with China in exchange for loans and investments for his administration's massive infrastructure push. He also shelved a 2016 arbitral court ruling that invalidated China's economic claims in the West Philippine Sea.