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House set to probe Rody-Xi ‘secret deal’ on Ayungin Shoal

Maricel Cruz & Charles Dantes

The House of Representatives is set to investigate the alleged gentleman’s agreement between former President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese leader Xi Jinping surrounding the alleged “status quo” in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Senator Hontiveros said in a previous report that she views the agreement as an act of treason, if proven true.

The request to probe the supposed agreement came from Assistant Majority Leader Jay Khonghun, said the House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe on Tuesday, who also sits as chairman of the House Committee on Rules. “We will act on the request,” Dalipe said.

“Protecting our national territory and marine resources are of utmost importance,” Dalipe added.

Dalipe explained that “The inquiry is aimed at guaranteeing transparency and protecting the national interests […] The House of Representatives is committed to conducting a comprehensive and fair inquiry to clarify this critical national issue.”

Congress resumes its session on April 29.

Earlier, Khonghun sought a congressional inquiry into the alleged “gentleman’s agreement” concerning the WPS.

He said that at the forefront of the upcoming inquiry lies a pivotal question: “Who is lying—Duterte or China—regarding the existence of the contentious agreement?”

“It’s crucial to ascertain the truth if indeed the Duterte administration struck such a deal with China,” Khonghun, a member of the Young Guns in the House of Representatives, who sought for a congressional probe, said.

The alleged agreement, purportedly made during the previous administration, has sparked intense debate, with Duterte now vehemently denying its existence, while China continues to assert the contrary.

“This isn’t just about conflicting narratives; it’s about upholding integrity and accountability,” Khonghun said.

The impending House probe reflects growing concerns over China’s influence in Philippine affairs, particularly in territorial disputes in the WPS.

If proven true, the agreement could have profound implications for the country’s sovereignty and foreign policy.

“We cannot allow uncertainty to cloud our national interests. The Filipino people deserve clarity and honesty from our leaders,” Khonghun said.

As lawmakers saddle up for the probe, the Philippine Navy on Tuesday reported sighting 55 Chinese Navy vessels inside various areas of the West Philippine Sea.

In a press conference, Philippine Navy spokesperson for the WPS Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad said the Chinese vessels are either stationary or doing patrols.

He added, however, that no aggressive or provocative actions were done by the Chinese vessels.

Trinidad listed two China Coast Guard (CCG) craft and 24 Chinese maritime militia vessels (CMMVs) near Bajo De Masinloc.

Additionally, the military detected one CCG ship accompanied by five Chinese fishing vessels (CFVs) near Ayungin Shoal. One CCG vessel and 19 CMMVs were spotted near Pagasa Island.

Moreover, two CMMVs were sighted near Panata Island, and one Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy ship was observed off Lawak Island.

According to Trinidad, the increased activities of Chinese vessels in the area depend on the presence of the United States.

“If you look at the actions of China, they come in whenever there is a vacuum. So, looking at the history, pullout of foreign forces from Vietnam, they came in. Pullout of the U.S. forces from the Philippines, they came in,” Trinidad stated.

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