FORMER Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has called on his colleagues in the government to stop making the West Philippine Sea (WPS) a partisan issue and instead quietly come up with a strategy both the administration and the critics can agree on.
Cayetano said concerned parties cannot let their emotions get the best of them because this pushes the administration to discuss its plans in public.
“Tuwing may sinasabi ang both sides, nakikinig ‘yan ang China, Vietnam, at Malaysia at inaayos ung strategy laban sa atin,” Cayetano said in an interview with reporters after the distribution of family packs to 9,000 Muslim families in Taguig City.
“Kapag foreign affairs, hindi pwedeng nababasa n’ung kabila anong gagawin natin,” Cayetano, who served as Foreign Affairs Secretary from 2017 to 2018, added.
He said covert strategies are a norm in balancing competition and interdependence among nations.
“I’ll give you an example. Saan natin kukunin ang pambili ng ating Coast Guard boats at Navy boats? Hindi ba kukunin din natin ‘yan through covert [means] — tourism, trade, investment? And doesn’t China play a big part of that?” he said.
Instead, Cayetano suggested that the administration and the opposition gather in a closed-door meeting to agree on a single strategy.
“Kaya nga ire-reiterate ko ang aking proposal: si Secretary Roque, Secretary Lorenzana, Secretary Locsin, and then si Justice Carpio, Secretary del Rosario, Senator Trillanes, upuan nila, isa-isahin nila yung issue. Dalawa o tatlong araw I think they will agree on maybe 60 or 70 percent, para 30 percent na lang ang hindi,” Cayetano said.
He added that after all, no one from the administration or the opposition has ever said the WPS is not Philippine territory and that the country should just give it up.
Cayetano said diplomacy is the best way for the country to claim what is rightfully ours. “There are simple things that we can do if we start talking and stop shouting,” he said.
“Sa diplomacy hindi bawal magsigawan, [pero] closed-door. Pero ‘pag magsisigawan sa publiko, magmumurahan, walang mangyayari,” he added.