Cayetano hits back at Aquino’s call for transparency on South China Sea issue

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Sen. Allan peter Cayetano answer questions from the media during a briefing at the NEB, Malacanang Palace on Friday, October 28, 2016. _ PHILSTAR/KRIZJOHN ROSALES

By Camille A. Aguinaldo

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano on Tuesday, July 31, hit back on former President Benigno S.C. Aquino III on the latter’s call for transparency on the South China Sea issue, saying that the former President and even Vice President Leni G. Robredo were given wrong information on the matter.

“Unfortunately, both former President Aquino and Vice President Leni Robredo are being fed wrong information. It’s very unfortunate that the same small corps who hijacked the foreign policy in the last administration are feeding them information that is simply not true,” he said during a press briefing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City.

“On the contrary, maybe President Aquino should ask Secretary (Albert F.) Del Rosario: Were you transparent with me?” he added.

Mr. Aquino earlier said the Duterte administration should be transparent with its negotiations with China to allay the concerns of Filipinos on the South China Sea issue.

Sought for comment, Mr. Cayetano said he has offered several government agencies, media outlets, as well as opposition politicians for briefings regarding the administration’s dealings with China. He clarified that there was no secret deals nor meetings with China as all talks with Chinese government officials were all on the record.

“There are no secret deals. We’re working out the issues, the principles are being discussed,” he said, referring to the country’s negotiations with China.

“What’s Einstein definition of stupidity? To keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result… There is more than one strategy.”

He also said his predecessor had incomplete records of information regarding the country’s responses with China’s militarization activities , especially on the removal of Philippine ships in Scarborough shoal back in 2012.

“When I look at the records in DFA, who ordered the Philippines ships to leave Scarborough? How did we leave Scarborough? Do any of you know? Was it really Senator (Antonio F.) Trillanes who said ‘leave or don’t leave?’ Was it really Foreign Secretary Del Rosario who said it? ‘Leave now or follow PNoy or follow this?’” he said.

“So, they did not really complete the records. They did not tell us… If you look on the surface, it looks brave. On the surface, it looks like that: it’s very brave and courageous strategy. But actually it doesn’t produce results,” he added.

He added that Messrs. Aquino and Del Rosario as well as Acting Chief Justice Antonio T. Carpio were imposing to the Duterte administration their previous strategy, which did not produce fishing and safety of life in the seas agreements as well as economic benefits to the country.

“And the problem is their strategy was not working. What’s Einstein definition of stupidity? To keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result… There is more than one strategy,” he said.

In response, Ms. Robredo’s spokesperson Ibarra M. Gutierrez III said the Foreign Secretary may start providing the right information by explaining the latter’s earlier statement regarding the “50 to 100 diplomatic protests” filed by DFA to China on its militarization activities

“Documents, not stories. We will wait for it,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Cayetano headed to Singapore to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meetings from August 1 to 4. He said he will also hold 12 bilateral meetings to discuss various topics on investments, political and security issues, including the South China Sea issue.

Meetings were scheduled with New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Singapore, Australia, China, Timor Leste, Vietnam, India, Norway, Iran, and the United States, the official added.