Trillanes to Cayetano: Why you didn’t follow through on historic arbitration victory?

Senator Antonio Trillanes asked Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano why the current administration did not “follow through on [Philippines’] historic victory at the arbitration court.”

Trillanes brought up the question after answering Cayetano’s open letter raising several questions directed to former President Noynoy Aquino regarding his administration’s strategy on West Philippine Sea dispute with China.

Cayetano asked what was the exact role of Senator Trillanes during the 2012 Scarborough Shoal standoff. He also asked how did the Philippines lost control of Scarborough in 2012. He also asked Aquino’s stand on the oil and gas exploration in West Philippine Sea.

Among the questions Cayetano posted were: How did we lose control of Scarborough Shoal in 2012 during your watch? Who made the decision to end the stand-off by ordering Philippine ships to leave, and on who’s advice? What exactly was Sen. Trillanes role and mandate? He made 16 trips to China as your emissary. Where are the reports and what were the agreements reached? Did Mr. Obama tell you that the US does not get involved with territorial disputes like in the WPS? What are your plans or proposals for oil and gas exploration in the WPS? Do you agree that oil and gas exploration and development will be very beneficial to all Filipinos?

“Your response will help us decide on how to proceed further in shaping our policy with China,” Cayetano said.

Trillanes said “the Panatag standoff happened in 2012 during which time Cayetano was still a loyal ally of the Aquino administration, so obviously, he never saw anything wrong with how PNoy resolved it then.”

“As to my Senate exchange with Enrile, Cayetano even defended me that time since he was my Minority leader back then,” he added.

“My mission, generally, was to deescalate the tension in the shoal. Specifically, it entailed the reduction of the number of Chinese ships in the area. The issue of sovereignty was not covered and was never discussed,” Trillanes said. “The negotiations lasted for about 3 months, at the end of which we were able to reduce the number of Chinese ships in the area to just 3, all of which were positioned outside the shoal. In short, I was able to accomplish my mission.”

“The refusal of China to remove the remaining 3 ships forced the hand of PNoy to file the arbitration case, which we eventually won,” he added.

“Now the question to Cayetano and his boss, Duterte, is this: Why didn’t you follow through on our historic victory at the arbitration court? Or better yet: Why aren’t you fighting for our sovereignty the way you promised during the campaign?” Trillanes said.

Former President Aquino also made a response to Cayetano’s open letter.

“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. Further, as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, you have at your disposal the files and relevant personnel concerning the issue,” Aquino said.

“What could not be gleaned from a mere review of the record and the various media reports are the details concerning the very thinking behind our actions: Why we did, how we did it, and all the political and cultural realities that led to our decision to bring our case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)–the results of which truly changed the equation. We, a small nation, were able to clarify and assert the rights of all before a superpower, China,” he added.

However, Aquino said answering Cayetano’s questions point per point is like presenting China with a gold mine of information and intelligence on our country and our very strategy describing it as a playbook. “I believe that would indeed make your life, and our country’s position, more difficult should a similar situation arise down the line,” he added.