Aquino urges Duterte: Be more transparent with China dealings


Posted at Jul 29 2018 04:15 PM

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MANILA - Former president Benigno Aquino III on Saturday called on his successor, President Rodrigo Duterte, to be more transparent to the public on his dealings with Beijing, which has conflicting interests with Manila over the West Philippine Sea.

Aquino initiated the filing of an arbitration case at an UN-backed tribunal that scrapped in 2016 China's sweeping claims to the waterway. Duterte, however, "set aside" the ruling, instead seeking closer diplomatic and trade ties with the world's second largest economy.

"Pakiusap, baka puwedeng ipakita iyung mga negosasyon nila, maging mas transparent tayo dito para walang agam-agam ang mgakababayan natin. Pero kung kakawalan ng impormasyon, medyo kung ano-anong papasok sa kaisipan," Aquino told reporters.

(We request that perhaps they can bare their negotiations, be more transparent with their dealings so that the public would have no concern for worry. Lack of information encourages all sorts of thoughts.)

Duterte, in his third State of the Nation Address last week, said he would not waver in defending the Philippines' interests in the West Philippine Sea despite improved relations with China.

He also noted that dialogue between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has resulted to a draft framework for the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which aims to resolve the conflict peacefully.

Aquino, however, asked when "binding rules" based on the Code of Conduct can be released.

"Puwede bang malaman gaano kalayo na tayo?" he said.

(May we find out how far we have gone since then? )

He also criticized a Cabinet official for saying that China now "allows" Filipino fishermen to venture in West Philippine Sea amid thawing ties with Manila.

"Medyo hindi yata ako kumportable doon sa sinabing ganoong statement. Sa iyo ito, 'di ba exclusive economic zone, papahintulan kang mangisda sa exclusive mo, parang may mali yata sa statement na iyun," he said, without naming the official he was referring to.

(I'm a bit uncomfortable with that statement. That is your exclusive economic zone and you are 'being allowed' to fish there -- there may be something wrong with that statement.)