China enjoying Enrile-Trillanes rift, Miriam says
MANILA (UPDATED) - In the row between Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV over the latter's backdoor negotiations with Beijing, no one wins but China, their fellow senator said.
"They're enjoying the show," Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago told reporters on Monday, referring to Chinese officials. "Now they're plotting how to maximize it."
Santiago, who used to chair the Senate's foreign relations committee, believes Enrile and Trillanes both committed blunders in their rift with each other over negotiations with China on disputed territories.
She said the circumstances behind Trillanes' trips to China as back channel negotiator are questionable.
"Apparently, he first went to China, and there he made his contacts. Then he came back to the Philippines and thereafter he now served out his role as a back channel negotiator. If there is any question at all, it will be, 'What was he doing in China the very first time he made his contacts?'" Santiago said.
Enrile, on the other hand, should not have read in public Philippine Ambassador to China Sonia Brady's notes of her meeting with Trillanes, she added.
Santiago pointed out the basic principle in international negotiations that a country must never reveal to another country with which it has differences what it is doing and its real sentiments and goals.
"These private notes of an ambassador are always, always highly confidential. They are written only for the eyes of the secretary of foreign affairs, who at his reasoned discretion can report them to the President or not. In any event, the public are not supposed to know about these notes," she said.
Santiago said the best way for officials to control the damage is to stop talking.
She also thinks Trillanes must cease being the country's backdoor negotiator with China now that his activities have been revealed.
"His effectiveness depended on great part upon the secrecy of the negotiations. If that is the case, since his cover has already been blown, he's no longer as effective as he was before," Santiago said.