MANILA, Philippines – Deferred for the third time.
The foreign affairs committee of the Commission on Appointments (CA) has again deferred the confirmation of Domingo Lee as Philippine ambassador to China.
And the reason this time was Lee’s failure to answer a senator’s questions regarding the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China.
At the start of the committee hearing on Lee’s nomination on Wednesday, Sen. Sergio Osmeña III asked him, “You’ve been doing a lot of reading?”
“Yes,” answered Lee, a Chinese businessman whose only credential to become ambassador, critics say, is his longtime friendship with the Aquino family, particularly the President’s late mother, Cory Aquino.
Asked Osmeña: “Would you like to tell us, brief the committee on the issues facing the Philippines vis-à-vis China? The importance of the West Philippine Sea, why is it important to us? What are the interests of other countries aside from China?”
Lee, who struggles with English, replied that countries claiming the West Philippine Sea are signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Osmeña then asked him which article of the UNCLOS China is opposing.
“They signed the UNCLOS and it was after it’s already ratified. And then they find out there’s a word not supposed to be applied,” Lee said.
Osmeña told Lee: “They named the article and they named the sub-section. I want to know if you know that. Obviously, you don’t know that.”
The next question was about the last meeting of the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to discuss the West Philippine Sea issue.
“Where was it held?”
“Vietnam? Malaysia?” Lee answered.
Osmeña asked an official of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) present in the hearing to answer the question. The meeting was held in Cambodia, the official said.
At one point in the hearing, Rep. Luis Villafuerte asked Lee what language he is more comfortable using so he can better explain his answers.
“Lahat nasa ulo ko,” Lee said, adding that there are some concepts he could not explain in words. (It’s all in my head.)
During a CA hearing in November 2011, Lee also failed to answer many of Osmeña’s questions, including the definition of diplomacy.
Osmeña has called on Malacañang to withdraw Lee’s appointment because he allegedly lacks experience and training in diplomacy. – Rappler.com