Senators seek transparency on Duterte-Xi deal

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 02 2019 03:12 PM

MANILA - Senators Leila de Lima and Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday urged the government to be more transparent on the supposed agreement between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Duterte earlier said he could not bar Chinese fishermen from the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) due to a "mutual agreement" he made with Xi.

His spokesperson Salvador Panelo later said the deal was an "informal" one. He also described it as "verbal" which is "valid and binding" in nature.

De Lima, a Duterte critic who is detained on drug charges, said the President's “secret deal” with the Chinese leader could not supersede Constitution, which states that all resources in the 200-nautical mile EEZ should only be for Filipinos.

Diplomatic tensions between Manila and Beijing flared up in June after a Chinese vessel sank a Filipino fishing boat off Reed Bank (Recto Bank), located within the Philippines’ EEZ.

Twenty-two Filipino fishermen were left at sea by the Chinese crew after sinking their boat. They were later rescued by a Vietnamese vessel.

Gatchalian said Congress must seek an explanation from the executive branch regarding the agreement.

“Hindi natin alam kung anong stage na itong verbal agreement. This can be a continuous concept that they are discussing but wala pang nai-implement. We have to understand how do you implement this type of an agreement,” he told reporters in a chance interview.

(We don’t know at what stage this verbal agreement is on. This can be a continuous concept that they are discussing but have yet to implement. We have to understand how to implement this type of an agreement.)

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Panelo could be talking "more than he should."

"He telegraphs every move and every plan that the executive has on issues that need a little diligence and study," Lacson said.

"Is it being carried out? It is my humble view that it is not. Why? There is no showing that the Department of Foreign Affairs as well as the Department of National Defense are implementing that so-called verbal agreement," he said in a statement.