Trillanes still PNoy's backdoor negotiator with China

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2012 12:14 PM | Updated as of Sep 22 2012 01:13 AM

PNoy sheds some light on senator's role

FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija (UPDATED) - President Aquino shed some light on how Senator Antonio Trillanes became his backchannel negotiator with China to resolve an ongoing territorial dispute over Scarborough Shoal.

Speaking to reporters, Aquino said it was Trillanes who first contacted him while the senator seemed to be in China.

Aquino said Trillanes was approached and was asked if he could open a back channel to address the issue.

Aquino did not specify who approached Trillanes.

Aquino said he accepted the offer, wanting to hear what the Chinese side had wanted to convey.

He stressed that the Philippines is committed to resolving the conflict peacefully and nothing would be lost if an informal channel was opened.

"Ang tanda ko diyan kinontak tayo ni Senator Trillanes at tila nasa China siya at that time, at nilapitan siya, tinanong 'yung posibilidad kung pupwede siyang maging backchannel nga. So, in the absence of any other channels that were existing beforehand, at sa gusto nating maresolba na mapayapa itong sitwasyon sa Scarborough Shoal, anong mawawala sa atin pakinggan 'yung ipararating. So, doon nag-umpisa po 'yan," Aquino said.

He pointed out the necessity for such an informal channel, saying that the formal channels seemed to have closed down, considering the "belligerent tone" of Chinese officials when issuing statements about their "indisputable" historical right over the islands in the South China Sea.

"Nagtaka tayo nung umusbong itong Scarborough Shoal na incident, 'yung formal channel naging very belligerent 'yung tono. Kaya tandaan ninyo 'yung sagutan nung kanilang ambassador na-ano nga ba 'yung mga phrases: indisputable historical right to Scarborough Shoal. Nagulat tayo na 'yung mga dating mga informal na conduits nila para mapadala sa atin 'yung kanilang mga pananaw ay tila… nawala lahat. Walang informal channels na dati'y agaran pinararating 'yung kanilang mga gustong iparating e, bigla na lang nawala," he said.

Aquino said that opening a backdoor channel would ease tensions and give way to an exchange of messages, as what was done to manage the diplomatic fallout following the August 2010 Manila hostage crisis where the victims were Hong Kong nationals.

Before Trillanes entered the picture, Chinese ships that were deployed near the Scarborough Shoal had reached a significant number, overwhelming the number of Philippine vessels.

Aquino is crediting the efforts of Trillanes and "other efforts" for bringing down that number significantly.

"Umabot nang napakarami. Siguro parang umabot ng disiotso pwera pa 'yung mga fishing boats nila na umabot yata ng 30. So kumonti nang kumonti 'yon. 'Yon naman siguro pwede nating i-credit doon sa efforts… ni Senator Trillanes at iba pang efforts," he said.

The tensions between the two countries have also eased since, according to Aquino.

"Hindi ko pwedeng ibigay sa inyo lahat ng detalye pero mukhang napakaliwanag na humupa naman nang maski papaano 'yung tension diyan at nakatulong si Senator Trillanes," he said.

Trillanes remains to have that role, according to the President.

"As of now, yes, he is. But, I will have to talk to him soon. I'm just loaded with so many things these past six weeks na yata e, starting [with] habagat. Pero I have to talk to him," he said.

In sending DILG Secretary Mar Roxas to China to meet with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, Aquino wants to ensure that his message would be relayed to the Chinese side as clear as possible, considering that the talks are of a party-to-party level.

"Ang instructions ko kay Secretary Roxas, simpleng-simple: siguraduhin na maparating 'yung ating mga pananaw doon sa highest levels of the leadership of the People's Republic para klarong walang loss in translation, para klaro kung saan tayo nagmumula, anong agam-agam natin, anong inaasahan natin. So, ma-itransmit 'yon," he said.

"Kung magrerespond sila, maganda; kung hindi, maliwanag sa atin na naiparating sa kanila 'yung talagang sinasaloob natin nang maliwanag nang maliwanag," he added.

Roxas is president of the ruling Liberal Party while Xi is a ranking official of the Chinese Communist Party.

Xi is also the presumptive successor of Chinese President Hu Jintao.