Yasay 'happy' behind somber reaction to arbitration verdict

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 19 2016 06:58 PM

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., on Tuesday explained that behind the somber tone he spoke with in the press conference after a favorable arbitration ruling for Manila, he said he is actually very happy.

"I was, of course, very happy inside. In fact, I recognized that the decision of the arbitral tribunal went way beyond our expectations and we know now that the legal basis for us to move forward has been established," he told ANC's Headstart with Karen Davila.

Yasay even admitted to having joined a protest essentially supporting the petition for the arbitration court as a private citizen a year ago.

"I did that, taking my responsibility as a Filipino, and I’m very proud of it. But now, I have a very special role. I’m the top diplomat of the country, and I’d like to perform my functions as faithfully as I could in the national interest," he said.

He explained that his muted reaction after the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that the Philippines can exploit resources within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, was because he did not want to provoke China.

"I knew that if I, being the top diplomat of the country is concerned, I cannot gloat insofar as this thing is concerned. By gloating alone, you will already send a signal that can generate adverse reactions to countries like China," he said.

Nevertheless, the unenthusiastic reaction from Yasay reaped reactions from different members of the society, especially in social networking sites, but Yasay said he "would not pass judgment" on whether the reactions were fair.

"I really look at all of these things, their reactions, their criticisms as necessary even for me because it keeps you on your toes. It makes sure that you are really well-balanced in your approaches to these problems," he said.

Though he has not heard any rumors about his removal from the post or reassignment, Yasay said he is ready with "no qualms about it" if it should come.

"I really serve under the pleasure of the president. Wherever he wants me to be, I will follow. I’m not concerned about staying as much as I am concerned about doing my job right," he said.