Government should also examine aid from China just as President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected conditional assistance from the European Union (EU) to prevent interference in the country’s affairs, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Friday.
Hontiveros issued the warning as Duterte's decision to decline fresh EU grants worth 250-million euros or P13.89 billion came just as he secured billions of dollars in pledges from China after attending the Belt and Road summit in Beijing.
Duterte has been pursuing warmer ties with China despite unresolved disputes in the South China Sea, where Beijing has continued militarization and island-building despite Manila's legal victory against its nine-dash line claim last year.
"Ang China, hindi ba pakikialam ang ginagawa nila sa atin sa panghihimasok sa West PH Sea?" Hontiveros said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
The West Philippine Sea is the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
Even as it continued incursions in the disputed waters, China has been urging the Philippines and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to avoid mentioning the arbitral ruling in official documents.
At the recently concluded ASEAN Summit in Manila, the joint leaders' statement affirmed members' commitment to "peace, security and stability" in the region, but was silent on the arbitration ruling and China's militarization activities.
Four ASEAN members- the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei- have partial claims in the resource-rich waters, overlapping with China's sweeping claims.
"Let's be fair. Let's examine the respect and interference of EU, China and all other countries," Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros said some senators were mulling to file a resolution that would inquire about the government's decision to stop receiving grants from the EU.
"What was the basis of this decision? What is the foreign policy objective you want to achieve through this?" Hontiveros said.
"Giving an opinion is not interfering with policies. Even the Philippines gives its opinions about the ASEAN, about the EU," she added.
The EU Delegation in Manila said the rejected aid would cover new projects supposed to be implemented starting this year up to 2020. The EU has provided a total of 2.3 billion euros in aid to the Philippines since 1992.