MANILA - Former senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Tuesday called former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile the "inventor of fake news" as the latter alleged he bypassed the country's envoy to China during the 2012 backchannel negotiations over the Scarborough Shoal standoff.
Enrile was among the guests of President Rodrigo Duterte during his weekly updates to the public titled "Talk To The People."
In the discussion, Enrile raised questions about why Trillanes was designated the backchannel negotiator and how the former military official was able to contact Chinese officials.
"Ito tao pong ito ay talagang notorious. Ika nga kung may taong tinatawag na imbentor ng fake news, siya na yun...Wala naman pong ginawang maayos yan sa Pilipinas sa hinaba-haba ng kaniyang buhay," Trillanes told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(This person is really notorious. If there was a person that invented fake news, it's him. He did not do anything good for the Philippines in his long life.)
"Grabe magmagic ito, grabe maglubid ng buhangin itong si Enrile. Lying comes out as naturally as breathing para kay Enrile."
(What he does is magic, making ropes out of sand. Lying comes out as naturally as breathing for Enrile.)
The senator said he was assigned to hold the backchannel talks by former President Benigno Aquino III, whose first choice was then Budget Secretary Butch Abad. Abad begged off as it was budget season, Trillanes said.
He said he was able to conduct the backchannel talks by simply getting in touch with the Chinese embassy in Manila.
Trillanes denied he bypassed Philippine Ambassador to China Sonia Brady as she had yet to arrive in Beijing during the backdoor negotiations.
He said the ambassador was not present in the backchannel talks from May to July 2012 and that he had to brief Brady on the matter when she arrived.
"Nung August (2012) kami nagusap, at the first instance ni-briefing ko nga siya eh. Dun po kami sa Philippine embassy sa Beijing para nga makaalis na ko," he said.
(We talked in August. I briefed her at the first instance at the Philippine embassy in Beijing so I could leave.)
"Kahapon pagkakataon ni Duterte ilabas 'yun kung anuman ang Brady notes na yun, pero he conveniently forgot. Nawala na raw niya. Kita niyo kung papaano magsinungaling ang mamang ito."
(It was Duterte's chance yesterday to reveal whatever those Brady notes were but he conveniently forget. He said he has misplaced it. You can see how he lies.)
Enrile first revealed the alleged Brady notes in 2012 after Trillanes accused the then Senate President of railroading a measure that would split Camarines Sur, and create a new province -- Nueva Camarines.
In the interview, Trillanes urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to release the Brady notes instead of relying on Enrile's version.
"Andiyan naman ang DFA. Ilabas niyo muna para makita natin ano ang sinabi ko kay Ambassador Brady at hindi. At yung sinabihan ko raw si Ambassador Brady na wag magtake ng notes, eh bakit may notes?" Trillanes said.
(There's the DFA, they can release whatever I said to Ambassador Brady. On the claim that I asked Ambassador Brady not to take notes, then why does it exist?
"Meron pong staff doon, briefing ko po iyon sa kanya nagte-takedown po siya ng notes para maupdate siya kung ano ang napagusapan na. Ginawa ko po ang trabaho ko, wala po akong binypass na kahit sino."
(There was staff there, it was a briefing. The ambassador took down notes so she can be updated on what has been discussed. I did my job. I did not bypass anyone.)
Trillanes, a vocal critic of Duterte, said last week he was eyeing the presidency in 2022. Over the weekend, he said Duterte has continuted to revive the Scarborough Shoal issue to divert the attention of the public.
Manila and Beijing's maritime spat flared again in March after more than 200 Chinese boats were spotted in the West Philippine Sea. China has refused repeated calls from the Philippines to withdraw the boats, prompting Manila to intensify maritime patrols in the area.
Duterte said he would not withdraw Philippine ships from disputed waters after he drew flak over his remark that his campaign promise for fishermen in disputed seas was a joke.
Duterte had set aside the landmark 2016 ruling over infrastructure and economic aid, and investments from China.