By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter
THE country’s top diplomat took to social media on Friday to respond to recent statements against him by former president Benigno S.C. Aquino III over the issue of transparency on the South China Sea issue.
In an open letter posted on Facebook, Mr. Cayetano lamented that the former president “chose to play with words” and compared the issue with their hairstyles. “While we both lost some of our hair, your administration lost control of Scarborough and a great opportunity to expand tourism, infrastructure and agriculture,” Mr. Cayetano said.
“We also lost many opportunities for cooperation in fields like science and technology, protection of the environment, among others, all because of the approach you, together with former Sec. (Albert F.) Del Rosario and Senator (Antonio F.) Trillanes (IV), chose to adopt and implement,” he added.
Mr. Aquino earlier criticized the Foreign Affairs Secretary over the Duterte administration’s lack of disclosure regarding its responses on China’s militarization activities in the disputed waters. He later called on Mr. Cayetano to be transparent with his politics as they were with their “hairstyle.”
Mr. Cayetano on Friday then listed 11 questions which revolved around the Aquino administration’s response regarding the standoff between Chinese and Philippine ships in Scarborough Shoal back in 2012. He said he hoped the former President would answer the questions to “help enrich public discussion on the issue.”
“How did we lose control of Scarborough shoal in 2012 during your watch? Who made the decision to end the stand-off by ordering Philippine ships to leave, and on (whose) advice?” he said.
He also questioned the involvement of Mr. Trillanes during the standoff and the latter’s refusal to disclose the “purpose and nature of his trips” to China as emissary.
Back in 2012, a Philippine Navy ship was about to apprehend Chinese fishing boats poaching in Scarborough Shoal when two Chinese surveillance ships blocked them. The surveillance ships placed themselves between the Philippine warship and the Chinese fishing vessels, preventing the Filipino Navy from making arrests.
“What exactly was Sen. Trillanes (‘s) role and mandate? He made 16 trips to China as your emissary. Where are the reports and what were the agreements reached?” Mr. Cayetano said.
Mr. Cayetano also asked about Mr. Aquino’s discussion with then United States President Barack Obama and whether there was any commitment he secured from the US on dealing with the maritime issue.
“(Mr. Obama) reportedly affirmed to Japan that the mutual defense treaty will be put into action if the Senkaku Islands are threatened. Did Mr. Obama tell you that the US does not get involved with territorial disputes like in the WPS (West Philippine Sea)? How did you respond to that?” he said.
He also asked if the Aquino administration had plans or proposals to explore oil and gas in the West Philippine Sea.
“Our people await your response to these questions in earnest, to be fully informed finally of the background of our complicated situation. Your response will help us decide on how to proceed further in shaping our policy with China,” Mr. Cayetano said.
“If, indeed, transparency is important to you as you claim, then consider your early response to these questions as crucial,” he added.
His last additional question was: “May we have your alternatives or proposals instead of merely criticizing the government today?”
By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter