China not a ‘friendly neighbor’ of Philippines —Hontiveros

China not a ‘friendly neighbor’ of Philippines —Hontiveros

The Chinese Embassy’s claim that China is a friendly neighbor of the Philippines is not true, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Thursday as she reiterated that the cost of COVID-19 response in the Philippines should be charged to the Asian powerhouse.

“China cannot claim to be a friendly ‘neighbor across the sea’ when it has continued its land reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea. Friends help each other out, not occupy their islands and destroy their reefs,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

This was in response to a statement issued by the foreign embassy calling out a senator’s remarks that China should shoulder the Philippine government’s expenses in responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

“China and the Philippine are working closely to fight the common threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this trying time, it is ridiculously absurd and irresponsible to make such remarks for the sole purpose of catching eyeballs and for selfish political gains,” the Chinese Embassy said in a statement.

“China and the Philippines are friendly neighbors across the sea,” it added.

The Chinese Embassy said it will “continue to provide our support and assistance to the best of our ability to the Philippines, and stand together with the Philippine government and people to jointly tackle the challenges and tide over the difficulties.”

Hontiveros said that it is “more absurd and irresponsible to see that, indeed, in the middle of a global pandemic, China has continued to aggressively violate Philippine sovereignty in the region.”

On Wednesday, the senator said that the Philippine government should demand renumeration from China for allegdly destroying the West Philippine Sea’s reef ecosystem.

“China has been damaging our ecosystems for over 6 years now, which means our losses could already amount to over 200 billion pesos. This money could be used to fund our health and economic plans as we transition to a new normal,” she said.

Hontiveros also welcomed the decision of the Department of Foreign Affairs to file two diplomatic protests against China over supposed violations of international law and Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.

The protests were about the alleged harassment of a Philippine Navy ship and China’s unilateral establishment of two districts that cover Philippine territories in the disputed waters.

“Since nakapaggawa na rin ng diplomatic protest ang DFA kaugnay nitong aggressive actions ng Tsina sa bahagi ng West Philippine Sea ay pwede na ring tumuntong doon sa pagsingil ng damages, damages sa ating reef and other marine ecosystems sa West Philippine Sea,” she said in an interview on CNN Philippines. —LDF, GMA News