MANILA, Philippines – Former President Fidel Ramos, the country’s special envoy to China, is skipping President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit there next week, according to President Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
“When I talked to former President Fidel V. Ramoslast Saturday, he said he is not joining the trip,” Andanar said in Filipino during a Palace briefing on Thursday, October 13.
Duterte will visit China from October 18 to 21.
Andanar said Ramos did not give a reason when they talked about it during Saturday’s Security Cluster meeting.
“I believe that it is about giving respect to our current President Rodrigo Duterte. If two presidents go there, it is possible that they will compete for attention,” Andanar said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Ramos, who was among those who persuaded Duterte to run for president, agreed to become his special envoy for talks with China.
The previous administration cut communication lines with China over maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). It also filed and won a historic international arbitration case that junked China’s sweeping claims over the disputed seas.
Duterte seeks to strengthen ties with China, and possibly Russia, while recalibrating the relationship with the United States, the country’s longest treaty ally.
Ramos early this week called out Duterte’s sustained tirades against the US, saying the President should be more “forward thinking.” – Rappler.com