Philippine lawmaker Gary Alejano expressed concerns that the Philippine government is no longer deploying navy ships to Panatag Shoal in the South China Sea.
The opposition lawmaker said that according to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, the government has stopped the deployment of navy ships to conduct patrols at the Panatag Shoal to ease the tensions with China.
Alejano added that he learned that as of January 2016, there has been no single mission conducted in the vicinity and it looks like the Philippine government has ordered the complete stop of navy patrols in the area.
Alejano claimed that he also received reports that Chinese forces were harassing Filipino fishermen and eventually opted not to fish in Panatag Shoal anymore for fear that Chinese vessels might chase them. Panatag Shoal is within the 200 nautical miles (370 km) exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
The lawmaker also reported that a Chinese flag was hoisted on Sandy Cay, an island, like Panatag Shoal, which is also within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
China earlier pledged to allocate at least US$20 billion to fund infrastructure programs and projects in the Philippines that will improve the country's economic growth. China has also opened new trading opportunities with the Philippines that benefitted Filipino exporters in the agriculture sector.
At the height of the armed conflict between the Philippine Armed Forces and Maute Terrorist Group, China provided 3,000 rifles to Philippine soldiers to battle remaining terrorists. Besides Russia, China also provided financial assistance for the reconstruction of battle-torn Marawi City.
In addition, the Chinese government through their embassy in Manila has provided funding assistance for families of soldiers killed by terrorists in Marawi City.
Philippines and China have improved their diplomatic relationship when Philippine President Rodrigo visited China and announced that he is realigning his government's policy with China.
Meanwhile, China has expressed optimism that China and ASEAN relations will be improving as it is now finalizing the South China Sea Code of Conduct that was developed by China in consultation with some ASEAN countries which have made contesting claims for some portions of South China Sea.