Aquino hits Cayetano: 'I hope your politics is as transparent as our hair'

MANILA, Philippines – Former president Benigno Aquino III fired back at his former ally, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who earlier accused the Aquino administration of being secretive in dealings with China.

Aquino said his administration had been nothing but transparent, even on the backchannel talks of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

"Transparency is the hallmark of our administration.... Wala tayong tinago, may records na kinuha din ang ating embassy sa Beijing. 'Di ko malaman saan nanggagaling na kulang 'yung transparency natin dito," Aquino told reporters during the 9th death anniversary of his mother, former president Corazon Aquino.

(Transparency is the hallmark of our administration.... We didn't hide anything. There are records from the embassy in Beijing. I don't know where he got the idea that we lacked transparency.)

Aquino also chided Cayetano and urged him to be "transparent" with his politics.

"Balikan ko lang, naalala ko lang pareho halos ang hairstyle namin ni Alan Peter. Pareho kami transparent sa aming hairstyle; siguro sa ating politics maging kasing transparent sana. 'Di ko sya nilalait, aminado akong mas makapal buhok niya sa akin," the former president said.

(I just remembered we have almost the same hairstyle. Alan Peter and I are both transparent with our hairstyle; maybe he should be as transparent with his politics. I'm not insulting him, I admit his hair is thicker than mine.)

Following Aquino's call for transparency in the Duterte administration's transactions with China, Cayetano hit the former president, insinuating that former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario kept secrets from Aquino. Cayetano also said diplomatic protests don't "produce results."

"Former president Aquino should ask former secretary Albert del Rosario: 'Were you transparent with me?'" Cayetano earlier said.

Aquino also criticized the Duterte administration for saying that the framework for the Code of Conduct (COC) on the South China Sea is almost done.

In his 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte said: "Participation in the ASEAN-China dialogue has also resulted [in] the draft framework for the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea which intends to resolve disputes by peaceful means."

But Aquino said he has not heard that the COC is being discussed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"Sa SONA ni President Duterte 'yung framework ng Code of Conduct ay nalalapit na. So baka naman kulang ako sa pagbabasa ng ating mga pahayagan araw-araw pero 'di ko nakita pinag-uusapan ang COC na 2002 pa na inaasam magkaroon," Aquino said.

(In President Duterte's SONA, he said the framework for the Code of Conduct would be agreed upon soon. But maybe I don't read the newspapers enough everyday, I haven't read that they're discussing the COC which has been pending since 2002.)

It was Aquino who brought China to court over the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines won the landmark case, but Duterte insists he won't "flaunt" it in dealing with China.

In his 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. –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email