Hontiveros, Cayetano face off over diplomatic protests vs China
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano clammed up on Tuesday on the issue of diplomatic protests that the Philippines had filed agains China.
At the hearing of the Senate committee on finance, Senator Risa Hontiveros brought up Cayetano’s earlier claim that the Philippines had filed about 50 to 100 diplomatic protests against China.
But when the senator asked Cayetano to confirm his earlier statement, the latter said he would only answer the question in a closed session.
“Honestly we haven’t counted, but we’re giving you the assurance that each and every incident, we take the appropriate diplomatic actions,” he said.
His answer though did not sit well with Hontiveros, who expressed disbelief that the government does not count its diplomatic protests.
“They asked me to estimate but I explained to them when the President talks to President Xi, that’s a protest,” Cayetano said, referring to China’s President Xi Jinping.
“When I talk to my counterpart, and tell them… that is a protest. When we file a note verbale and depende (it depends) if you put three items there, you’re protesting items,” he added.
“So more or less po, how many notes-verbale…?” Hontiveros asked again.
“I can count and tell you in a closed session but what we are saying is that, it’s not our playbook, it’s not our strategy to keep announcing that because we are getting results,” Cayetano said.
Unlike the Aquino administration, he said, the Duterte administration does not announce every protest it filed against China.
“We have the opposite strategy and I dare say that our strategy is working much better than the past administration’s strategy,” Cayetano added. /ee
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