Alan Peter Cayetano

Cayetano asks gov’t, critics to discuss WPS in private

May 15, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 478 views

FORMER Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has proposed that the government and its critics discuss the West Philippine Sea (WPS) dispute in private.

In an interview with RMN Nationwide, Cayetano warned that the blame game between the current administration and its critics is closely being observed by other claimants in the region, including Vietnam, Malaysia, and China.

“Mali na dinidiscuss natin ang strategy in public,” Cayetano said. “So, pag nag-aaway tayo in public tungkol diyan, nakikinig sila.”

Cayetano, who was Secretary of Foreign Affairs from 2017 to 2019, suggested that Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin, Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, and former Senator Antonio Trillianes IV pursue a private conversation on the West Philippine Sea.

Carpio and del Rosario were both part of the delegation that represented the Philippines in the controversial 2013 arbitration case against China over conflicting territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea. Trillanes, for his part, is a known critic of the Duterte administration.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Carpio had challenged each other early last week to a public debate on the WPS issue, but Cayetano said the two camps should instead talk to each other in private.

“Mag-usap sila tungkol sa alam nila sa West Philippine Sea, sa strategy,” Cayetano said. “And then, mag-usap kung ano ang pwedeng sabihin in public na di masisira ang strategy natin.”

At the same time, the former Speaker blasted the “fake news” being circulated by critics about the country’s losses in the West Philippine Sea.

He said contrary to claims by critics, access to the disputed waters has become easier and safer for Filipino fisherfolk under the Duterte administration.

“(Noong) panahon ni President Aquino, di po makapangisda ang ating mga mangingisda sa Scarborough Shoal. Ngayon po, nakakapangisda na tayo dahil sa magandang usapan between the two countries (Pilipinas at Tsina),” he said.