MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has admitted that he was approached and assisted by the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) in his back-channel negotiations with China from May to July.
He was also in frequent communication with Chinese Ambassador to Manila Ma Keqing, even as the Philippine government was sending her diplomatic notes to express its dismay at the height of tensions over the Scarborough Shoal dispute
The FFCCCII has been lobbying the government for a softer stance in the territorial dispute with China.
Its membership represents billions of pesos of business investments in China.
The federation favors bilateral talks with China as opposed to the Aquino government's multilateral approach.
"Yes, they (FFCCCII) approached me," Trillanes said. "Eh kasi ma-ano na eh. Ma-ano na iyung sitwasyon."
He said he also met with Ma, but does not know if the Department of Foreign Affairs knew about the meetings.
"I wouldn't know. But I assumed na since nagre-report ako sa Presidente, that aligned iyung aming galaw," Trillanes said.
But Trillanes denied the federation bankrolled his trips, saying these were shouldered by the government.
Of the 15 or 16 meetings he had with Chinese officials, 6 or 7 were held in China.
Trillanes had said it was Malacañang that approached him to ask for his help in easing the tension between the two countries.
But last week, President Aquino said it was Trillanes who offered his services.
Trillanes said he won't contradict the President.
He also insisted that the "traitor" is not him but Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who made public the notes of former Philippine Ambassador to China Sonia Brady, which are supposed to remain secret.
He also criticized the DFA, which he says is the only possible source of the notes.
Trillanes admitted that his feud with Enrile has not been helpful to the country's cause, but he said the blame lies solely with Enrile.