MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has asked Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Senator Antonio Trillanes to refrain from making comments on their alleged differences on how to resolve the country’s territorial dispute with China.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the President has spoken to del Rosario and plans to meet with Trillanes.
"It looks nice for the press [that] two officials—high government officials—engage in discussions in media. But the President has asked both of them to refrain from making further statements until he speaks to them. He spoke to Secretary Del Rosario. He intends to speak to Senator Trillanes,” Lacierda told reporters.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda also denied that there is disagreement between del Rosario and Trillanes who was authorized by the President to lead backroom talks with China.
Lacierda read a text statement from Trillanes during the press briefing:
“I would like to clarify that SFA and I have no disagreements and I will state that PNoy through the DFA is the sole source of our foreign policy. I was merely tasked to help out deescalate the tension in Panatag and the improved situation right now is the result of a collective effort of everyone involved. But, ultimately, it was President Aquino who was calling the shots.”
Lacierda said it was Trillanes who volunteered to the President to help in resolving the conflict between the Philippines and China.
“This was during the height of the tensions between China and the Philippines and the President said let’s keep our options open. The President was approached by Senator Trillanes that there’s a way forward to hold these things,” Lacierda said.
“If you’re asking me if he’s still the…backdoor negotiator, again, we will reserve comment until the President speaks to Senator Trillanes.”
Lacierda could not say when Trillanes specifically entered the picture and only recalled that Trillanes attended the cabinet’s executive session on Philippine-China relations held last July 5.