After a week, Cayetano still unsure if UK offered money
MANILA, Philippines – A week after President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that the United Kingdom offered $18-20 million to the Philippines, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said he was still unsure if this is true.
"I'm still checking," Cayetano said in an interview with reporters Thursday, October 19.
Cayetano said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is unable to monitor all offers made by other countries to the Philippines because foreign donors sometimes "engage directly" with beneficiaries.
It takes a call to the reported donor, however, to answer Cayetano's question.
Cayetano made his claim 6 days after the DFA said on October 13 that "there is no new offer of direct monetary assistance to the Philippines" from the UK.
The DFA was effectively refuting Duterte's statement a day earlier, on October 12, that he had "refused" $18-20 million from the British government.
Recently, however, it was not the UK that earned Duterte's ire but the European Union. This was after Duterte fell for propaganda that the EU wanted the Philippines out of the United Nations.
A Malacañang official surmised that Duterte might have mistaken the EU for the UK, according to a source privy to the information.
Duterte repeated his claim about the UK at least twice after October 12.
'Pinnacle of information pyramid'
Why does Cayetano, then, still claim to be clueless about the UK's supposed offer? Cayetano was asked on Thursday: Isn't it the DFA's job to monitor offers like this?
"Yes," Cayetano answered.
He was asked a follow-up question: "And if you were not able to monitor this, are you admitting that there was a shortcoming on the part of DFA?"
"No," Cayetano said. "It's the normal systems. Information is not all real-time, instantaneous. These are all communications that have a flow."
To boost his argument, Cayetano cited an example involving his nemesis, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who flew to the United States and met with US Senator Marco Rubio about Duterte's drug war.
In a mix of English and Filipino, Cayetano told reporters: "If I ask you right now, is anyone interviewing Senator Trillanes in the US? Unless you pick up your cell and call your home office, you also wouldn't know."
By the time Cayetano said this, however, 7 days had elapsed since Duterte first claimed that he refused the UK's supposed offer.
In the end, Cayetano said: "The President is at the pinnacle of the information pyramid. So he'd know much more than we do." – Rappler.com