Duterte not surrendering West Philippine Sea – Cayetano

Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Saturday refuted accusations that President Rodrigo Duterte is surrendering the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to China, saying the Commander-in-Chief is simply employing a non-aggressive style of negotiation.

“Unang-una, gusto kong linawin: malinaw ang stand ng Pangulo na not a single inch of Philippine territory or not a single peso worth of sovereign right ay igi-give up natin sa Malaysia man, sa Vietnam, or sa China,” Cayetano, who served as Duterte’s Foreign Affairs Secretary from 2017 to 2018, said in an interview with radio station RMN Davao.

He said it is Duterte’s non-confrontational attitude towards China that has been preventing the Philippines from entirely losing the territory, as opposed to what happened in the previous administration.

“Kumbaga, kung pinag-aagawan natin ang isang kotse, ‘yung isa ang style niya ay makipagsigawan, pero nakuha n’ung China ‘yung kotse. Kay Pangulo (Duterte) naman, usap tayo nang usap pero walang nawala po sa atin,” he said.

(If we were fighting for a car, the previous administration’s style of engaging in a shouting match ended up with China getting the car. Under President Duterte, we’ve been talking and talking but haven’t lost anything.)

“So kumbaga parang mas siga sila (previous administration) kasi sigawan ang gusto nila. Kaya lang, maling strategy, kasi nawawala sa atin eh,” Cayetano said.

(So in a sense the previous administration acted tough because they wanted a shouting match. The problem was it was a wrong strategy because we lost.)

In 2012, the Philippines lost the Panatag Shoal, also called Scarborough Shoal in the WPS, to Beijing after a standoff that erupted when Manila sent its biggest warship to chase off Chinese poachers.

Duterte had blamed the administration of former President Benigno Aquino for the loss of Panatag Shoal, but on Tuesday, May 4, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario hit back and said it is the President who seems to “trade our lands and waters for prospects of money given by China.”

Cayetano, for his part, encouraged the public to analyze the issue based on facts and not on “mere accusations.”

“Ako’y naniniwala na hindi talaga bibitawan ng ating Pangulo itong issue na ‘to,” Cayetano said.

(I believe the President will not let go of this issue.)

The Philippines has recently begun filing daily diplomatic protests over the continuing presence of Chinese ships at Julian Felipe Reef, which is within the country’s exclusive economic zone.

The maritime dispute between the Philippines and China sparked anew last March after reports of over 200 Chinese Maritime Militia boats were spotted near the Julian Felipe Reef. ###