Cites handling of disputes with Sabah, China as examples
MANILA – United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial candidate Richard Gordon on Tuesday said President Aquino has made some questionable moves of late particularly on the Philippines’ claim over Sabah, Malaysia and its territorial row with China.
In an interview on ANC’s Headstart, Gordon said he believes Aquino is a good person and has done well in his anti-corruption drive but has poor handling of foreign policy issues.
“Ang problema ni PNoy ang sabi ko nga medyo kulang dun sa nuances in foreign policy. It is not his strongest suit. You do not negotiate in public. You do not posture in public. You make sure – ano ba talaga ang national interest natin diyan? Ano ba talaga ang dapat natin reaction dyan?” he told Headstart host Karen Davila.
Gordon said Aquino practiced “management by the seat of his pants” when the Sabah issue blew up. More than 30 people have died after armed followers of Jamalul Kiram III, one of the claimants to the title of sultan of Sulu, engaged Malaysian forces in firefights in Sabah, Malaysia after pressing their historic claim over the territory.
The former senator said that instead of speaking out about the issue, the President should have let Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario do all the talking in public.
“Pinabayaan siya ng mga adviser. The President should not talk in these cases. It is the foreign secretary who should talk because he (Aquino) painted himself in a corner as he painted the Kiram group into a corner,” he said.
Gordon noted that Malacañang seemed to tackle the Sabah claim as an afterthought by saying that they will pursue the claim before the International Court of Justice.
Tough guy stance
He also said that instead of taking a “tough guy” stance, Aquino should have placated the Kiram family by acknowledging that the Sabah claim was neglected and that the new government would back up their claim.
“Kung nagkulang ako sa inyo, patawarin niyo. Bumalik na kayo dito. Ipaglalaban ko ang claim niyo. He did not do that. What did he say? You are outlaws. You are criminals. When you come back here, lagot kayo,” he said.
“You are a Filipino president. What kind of message do you think the Malaysians got? ‘Ah yung presidente nila pinabayaan na sila. Pwede na natin upakan yan.’ E di inupakan nila. That is what happened,” he added.
Gordon said he believes the Kiram family has a rightful claim over Sabah as shown in historical documents. He said even the Malaysian government cannot deny that it is paying a small fee to the Kiram family to use the land.
“These are Tausug Filipinos. They are historically Lapu-Lapu. They fought against the colonial invaders. They will die. Sabihin mo - e binayaran na kayo. Kung binayaran ka, hindi kayo magpapakamatay. Pera yun. Ang pinaglalaban dito ay yung historic claim nila. Umuwi lang sila sa homeland nila,” he said.
“Nations go on their national interest. Hindi pwede yng pride yan ng personal ng presidente, na napahiya ako diyan. Ipapakita ko ako siga dito sa Pilipinas. Sisitahin ko yung tao natin. Mga Pilipino yan,” he said.
Gordon said Aquino’s mismanagement was also seen in the handling of the 2010 Rizal Park hostage crisis where 8 Hong Kong tourists died. Instead of punishing the officials involved, Gordon said Malacañang failed to jail officials who botched the rescue.
"Insofar as I am concerned, it’s mismanagement. Dun sa hostage crisis, mismanaged din. Nagalit ang China sa atin. Na-mismanage natin yan, walang nakulong," he said.
He said Malacañang is also practicing “saging (banana) diplomacy” with China, after the territorial row with Beijing led to a temporary ban on the importation of Philippine bananas.
“We lost our bananas in China. If the Philippine claim to Sabah is 'saging,' our relationship with China is based on saging again. Saging diplomacy. Tinanggal yung saging natin. Talagang binabalatan yung saging natin. Pangit yung saging niyo, pangit yung packing,” he said.
Gordon said the government made a wrong move when it sent a Philippine Navy ship to arrest Chinese fishermen intruding at the Scarborough shoal last year. He said the situation quickly escalated to the point where Philippine ships can no longer go back to the shoal.
Gordon said China is “a very personalistic nation” that used to love the Philippines because it was the first country to recognize them during the leadership of Chairman Mao Zedong.
He also lamented the weakness of the Philippine Navy and Air Force, which makes the country an easy target for China. He also noted Beijing only began aggressively taking over territories in the South China Sea after the US bases left the Philippines in 1991.
“China ayaw nilang mangyari yung tinake over sila ng foreign powers. Pagdating sa teritoryo, inaway nila India, Russia. Matagal ko nang sinasabi sa Senado, dapat pag-usapan natin yan. Kailangan meron tayong air force. Pag mag nag-i-intrude, dapat may mag fa-flyover. Mag-iisip na yun. Atsaka dapat pinag-aaralan natin kung claim natin diyan. Dapat nandun tayo,” he said.