‘CHINA, PAY NOW’
Hontiveros demands China debt be used for COVID-19 response
Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday reiterated her call for China to pay over P800 billion in reparations for her ecological damage of the West Philippine Sea. The senator said that the money could go to our country’s COVID-19 response.
“Lolobo lang yang utang ng Tsina sa Pilipinas kung hindi pa rin siya mag-uumpisang magbayad ng utang niya sa Pilipinas. Yung ganyang kalaking halaga ay makakatulong para sa mga naghihikahos nating kababayan dahil sa COVID-19. We, in government, must already take the next concrete steps on how to make China pay,” Hontiveros said.
In April last year, Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution 369, demanding that the Executive exert legal and diplomatic efforts so that China would foot the bill for our COVID-19 response. This came after a report from a representative of the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute, which revealed that the Philippines is losing around P33.1 billion annually, amounting to a total of P200 billion as China has been reclaiming land in the WPS for seven years now.
Last February, Hontiveros also said that the amount could already total more than P800 billion, after reports that our country loses P644 billion worth of fish catch due to the presence of Chinese vessels since 2014.
“There is so much we could do with P800 billion. Our health care workers have been demanding timely hazard pay; our teachers need financial support with the resources for online learning; farmers and fisherfolk themselves are going hungry, and 4.5 million jobless Filipinos are looking for aid to tide them over. Tayo ang may-ari ng ating karagatan, kaya sana mapunta sa mga Pilipino ang yaman na iyan,” Hontiveros said.
“Kung sinasabi ng Palasyo na wala nang natirang pera ang gobyerno para sa ayuda, dapat maghanap na sila ng paraan para matustusan ang kakulangan na ito. Dapat pilitin na ng Palasyo ang ‘best friend’ niya na magbayad ng utang. Isa itong tiyak na solusyon para matugunan ang ating pagkukulang sa ating mamamayan. Huwag naman sanang iasa nalang natin sa community pantries ang pagkain at ayuda,” the senator said.
Hontiveros said that PSR 369 was already referred to the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations in May 2020. The senator said that once Senate sessions resume on May 17, she hopes that this could be heard by the committee, especially that China is hell-bent on continuing with her reclamation activities in the WPS while we are still scrambling for funds for our COVID-19 response.
“Ang tagal na nating naniningil. We are well within our rights to pressure China to pay. Tayo ang may karapatan sa WPS, kaya huwag natin siyang tantanan. Ang gusto natin ay compensation, hindi konsumisyon,” Hontiveros concluded. ###