MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros slammed Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday, August 29, for claiming that the Duterte administration has filed 50 to 100 diplomatic protests against China.
“A total fakery. Nonexistent. A figment of their imagination,” Hontiveros said of Cayetano’s claim.
Hontiveros grilled Cayetano on Tuesday, August 28, about the supposed 50 to 100 protests that Manila has filed against Beijing.
It was Cayetano who, in a congressional hearing on May 30, gave this estimated number of protests. Days later, the Department of Foreign Affairs on June 4 said in a written statement that it has undertaken “85 diplomatic actions,” without specifying if these were against China or other countries in general.
On Tuesday, Hontiveros asked Cayetano if he is confirming “that there were 50 to 100 diplomatic actions,” and “how many were in the form of notes verbale, how many were diplomatic demarches, how many were collective notes.”
“Honestly, we haven’t counted, but we’re giving you the assurance that for each and every incident, we take the appropriate diplomatic action,” Cayetano said on Tuesday.
“In a purpose-driven foreign policy, how many doesn’t really matter,” he added, saying this is his message to Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, who pressed him on May 30 about the number of protests filed against China.
On Wednesday, Hontiveros said Cayetano’s answers were “vague, evasive, and fallacious.” She said Cayetano “is obviously dodging the issue.”
“How could divulging the exact number of his diplomatic actions against China, the dates and times they were made, and the nature of these protests compromise our national security? It is absurd. You don’t need an executive session for that. I was not even asking the content of these protests but simply the basic features of his claim,” Hontiveros said.
The Philippines claims it has filed protests against China, but refuses to publicize these to avoid agitating the Chinese government and to attract economic gains. In the meantime, China continues its incursions into Philippine waters, even saying that it is allowing Filipinos to fish in Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea “out of goodwill.” – Rappler.com
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