Gordon to politicians: Stop grandstanding; speak with one voice on China issue

Senator Richard Gordon on Sunday scored politicians for grandstanding on the issues in the West Philippine Sea exacerbated recently by China’s increased militarization of the area and the reported harassment of Filipino fishermen in the disputed waters.

Gordon urged President Rodrigo Duterte to convene members of Congress in a private meeting in Malacañang to shed light on the country’s foreign policy on China.

“Dapat sa Malacañang iyon at dapat mag usap-usap lahat na walang mag-grandstand. Walang magpapa gwapo. Pag-usapan muna para magkaintindihan na (It should be Malacañang’s role and there should be an agreement to stop politicians from grandstanding),” he said over DZBB radio.

The senator, an ally of the President, called for a unified stance on the China issues amid pressure from the opposition to disclose how the government is handing the sea dispute.

READ: China not a reliable, friendly ally — Gordon

“Kailangan isa lang ang salita natin. Huwag tayong maraming nagsasalita. Kung marami tayong nagsasalita ay kakayanin tayo lalo (We should have a united front and should speak as one. If we are saying different things, we’ll only lose),” he said.

The meeting must be private because China could be listening, he stressed.

Gordon, however, said he is open to the idea of a legislative review of the country’s foreign policy if there will be a misunderstanding in Malacañang.

Opposition senators have filed different resolutions seeking a Senate oversight review of the country’s foreign policy, but the foreign relations committee failed to conduct a hearing before the chamber went into legislative break.

Last week, Senator Risa Hontiveros stressed that the Senate is the President’s foreign policy partner and called for a foreign policy audit of the administration.

She said she will follow this up with a hearing with committee chair Senator Loren Legarda.

Gordon did not name the politicians who could be grandstanding on the issue. But opposition senators have expressed grave concern on China’s “creeping invasion” and bully behavior in the disputed seas.

In the lower house, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano claimed that the Duterte administration ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to stop patrolling the West Philippine Sea.

READ: Duterte has ordered AFP to cease patrolling West PH sea, says Alejano

In the Senate, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, citing military insider reports, echoed Alejano’s claims.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano hit both Trillanes and Alejano for supposedly endangering the country’s security and position on the dispute, accusing Alejano of using the China issues to advance his senatorial bid in 2019.

READ: Cayetano slams Trillanes, Alejano for ‘endangering’ PH security

But Alejano rebutted: “It is Duterte and his cohorts who endanger our national security by allowing the blatant encroachment of China on Philippine territory.” /ee

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