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Senate probe of Duterte, Xi agreement sought

SEN. Ana Theresia «Risa» Hontiveros wants the Senate to probe the reported «gentleman's agreement» between former president Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping that stopped the repair of the grounded BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

The senator filed a resolution seeking an investigation into such an agreement, as admitted by lawyer Harry Roque Jr., Duterte's former spokesman.

«This 'gentleman's agreement' is treasonous,» said Hontiveros as she filed Senate Resolution 982 seeking the investigation.

The BRP Sierra Madre is a commissioned naval vessel permanently stationed in Ayungin Shoal to serve as a «constant Philippine government presence in the area,» the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

This was in response to China's «illegal occupation» in 1995 of Panganiban (Mischief) Reef.

«It is our duty to fortify the BRP Sierra Madre. Without it on Ayungin, we effectively give way for China to illegally occupy what is ours,» Hontiveros said.

«If we stop reinforcing the Sierra Madre, we not only lose a crucial, strategic outpost but also fail to defend our sovereignty,» she said.


«While China, in any case, will most likely attack our resupply missions en route to Ayungin, this sham of an agreement only gave Beijing more ammunition to assert her baseless claims,» Hontiveros said.

She said that if the agreement is confirmed to be true, it would be «tantamount to a surrender of Philippine sovereignty.»

The senator said that National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya claimed that the agency was not aware of such an agreement.

Malaya said that Roque should explain the circumstances of the deal and how it was brokered, considering its implications for national security.


«China is already all around us — in telecoms, national grid, in the seas — and Duterte empowered China even more with the agreement he entered into [with Xi],» Hontiveros said.