Aquino to Cayetano: Would you give PH's playbook to China?
MANILA, Philippines – Former President Benigno Aquino III on Friday, August 3, said answering Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano's questions on the West Philippine Sea issue is akin to presenting the Philippines' "playbook" to China.
"To respond point per point to your questions, which I suspect Beijing has likewise asked in the wake of its defeat before the PCA (Permanent Court of Arbritation) and world opinion, is akin to presenting them with a gold mine of information and intelligence – a playbook, so to speak – on our country and our very strategy.
"That would make us predictable. I believe that would indeed make your life, and our country’s position, more difficult should a similar situation arise down the line," Aquino added.
Earlier on Friday, Cayetano fired back at Aquino with 11 questions to prove that the former administration had always been "transparent" with its dealings with China
Cayetano said that the Aquino administration lost control of the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, as well as opportunities in research and environmental preservation when they brought China to court over the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
"While we both lost some of our hair, your administration lost control of Scarborough and a great opportunity to expand tourism, infrastructure and agriculture," 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 Secretary [Albert] Del Rosario and Senator [Antonio Trillanes IV], chose to adopt and implement," he added.
Cayetano also chided Aquino and asked him to propose alternatives than "merely criticizing the government."
Cautious of China
Refusing to answer the questions, Aquino said: "Alan, I remember you as being very fond of basketball. I ask: Would it be wise to give your team's playbook to your opponent?"
The former president reminded Cayetano that he had always kept the same stance of being "too close" with China.
"On being constructive, might I state that, in the only NSC (National Security Council) meeting that I was invited to under the watch of President [Rodrigo] Duterte, I cautioned everyone about becoming too close with Beijing," Aquino said.
He cautioned about China's Belt and Road Initiative, citing instances from the The Economist week of July 28 issue, that the loans provided by China "are not charity." (READ: [OPINION] What scares me the most about China’s new, ‘friendly’ loans)
Aquino also said that Cayetano could have easily searched the answers to his questions on Google or use his power as the foreign affairs chief for the said information.
"I would have to say that the overwhelming bulk of the questions that you put forward could be easily answered through a quick Google search, which would reveal, among others, my statements, our actions, and the positions of the parties who were involved in the matter," Aquino said.
"Further, as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, you have at your disposal the files and relevant personnel concerning the issue," he added.
Under the Duterte administration, ties between China and the Philippines have become more friendly, with Duterte insisting he won't "flaunt" the ruling on the West Philippine Sea in dealing with China.
During the 3rd SONA, Duterte vowed to defend the West Philippine Sea. He also said the Philippines' "reenergized relations with China" have led to "an unprecedented level of cooperation" in fighting illegal drugs. – Rappler.com