Gossip and a failure of the intelligence network. This is how Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade described Wednesday the claim of outgoing US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg that Tugade and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano made an unpublicized trip to China in June 2016.
In a Facebook post on the Department of Transportation FB page, Tugade denied Goldberg's claim of an unpublicized trip to Beijing last June.
He also said the ambassador can examine his passport any time.
"If it is true that Ambassador Goldberg said that, then the fabled American 'intelligence network' has miserably failed again. Tsismis yan! Was never in Beijing in June! You can always examine my passport anytime,” he said.
Goldberg, who is set to end his three-year mission as US ambassador, earlier told ANC's Headstart he was not surprised that the Philippines secured an estimated $24 billion in investment and loan pledges after President Rodrigo Duterte's state visit to Beijing.
He noted that before Duterte's state visit, Chinese ambassador, Zhao Jianhua, and Chinese businessmen made frequent visits to meet with Duterte last June.
He also said Cayetano and Tugade made an unpublicized trip to China last June.
"I actually wasn’t all that surprised. I do know that the Chinese Ambassador and others in the Chinese business community were visiting [then] President-elect Duterte quite often in the month of June,” Goldberg said.
"I also know, and I don’t think this has been revealed publicly, but I know, that Senator Cayetano, President Duterte’s running mate, made an unpublicized trip to China in June along with Secretary [Arthur] Tugade. All of this actually were in train, I think. There were already discussions going on."
"I don't think Senator Cayetano's role was fully known publicly but he was actually starting this process way back June."
Asked if Cayetano and Tugade made back door negotiations with China, Goldberg said he does not know since it was never explained publicly.
"This was clearly in train before of the recent statement and upset and all of that so it wasn't exactly, for me, a surprise," he said.
Tugade was appointed transportation secretary in May 2016. Cayetano ran for vice-president as Duterte's running-mate but lost in the May 2016 polls.