MANILA, Philippines - Leaders in the House of Representatives are thinking through proposals on whether or not China-made products will be taxed heavily or banned altogether in protest of Beijing's perceived invasion of a shoal deemed Philippine territory.
House Assistant Majority Leader and Citizens Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna and House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez agreed that the imposition of higher duties on imported Chinese products can be pursued by the 15th Congress.
''That is possible and we support that as a sign of protest to China's bullying. But if we want the ban to be implemented faster, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) can impose stricter importation standards, solely on products coming from China. This will be faster compared to making a law because approval from both Houses and approval by the President is needed,'' Tugna said.
China's deployment of more patrol vessels in Bajo de Masinloc (also referred to as Panatag or Scarborough Shoal) which is within the country's exclusive economic zone, further aggravated the weeklong standoff between Manila and Beijing.
Suarez, who heads the opposition bloc in the House, said apart from the imposition of higher taxes, the total ban on the importation of Chinese products is also possible.
''Imposing higher taxes is an option. But we should instead go for the total ban on the importation of China-made products,'' he said.
Ang Kasangga party-list Rep. Teodorico ''Teddy'' Haresco has filed a resolution seeking the filing of a case against the Chinese government at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
''China basically stated, if the Philippines cannot project its sovereignty (Bismarck's thesis of arms over political power) over supposed disputed islands, then all bets are cancelled. It is simply about economics. China just wants to dominate the strategic straits of Singapore, Lombok and Malacca which controls some 56 percent of global trade,'' Haresco said.
Haresco is asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to go ahead with file a case against China.
But, House Deputy Minority Leader and Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros ''Mitos'' Magsaysay, Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya Jr., and Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento did not agree with their two colleagues.
''What will happen to workers whose companies depend on China-made products? I don't think this will benefit Filipinos in our bid to protest to the strong presence of China in the disputed shoal,'' Magsaysay said.
Along with Magsaysay, Abaya and Sarmiento sought a diplomatic solution to the ongoing territorial bickering between the Philippines and China.
''I don't think boycotting Chinese products can do much help to convince the Chinese government. It is important to continue diplomatic discussions,'' Abaya said.
Sarmiento pushed for the continued diplomatic negotiations as he called on the Aquino government to strengthen its partnership not only with the United States, but also with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
''Let us continue to negotiate diplomatically. The more reason for us to work closely with our allies, not only with the US but the ASEAN most especially, possibly joint patrols, but then again we have to equip the Armed Forces of the Philippines first for us to be able to do that.''
DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario called on other nations to take a stand on China's new aggressiveness in the simmering territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). (With a report from AFP and Genalyn D. Kabiling)