‘Duterte won’t waste efforts of past admins in South China Sea issue’
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Incoming Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday assured the media that the Duterte government is on top of the situation in the South China Sea and will not waste efforts of past administrations.
“Through President Duterte’s diplomacy and his strategy, we got assurances by everyone that walang magke-claim, walang makikialam (nothing will be claimed, nothing will be meddled with) and it’s safe,” said Cayetano, referring to several countries with overlapping claims in the South China Sea.
He said President Rodrigo Duterte has made people realize that the situation is complicated and its not just “Philippines versus China.”
“So the Philippines is in a strategic role now to talk to Japan, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, et cetera, to talk to all of them na, O huwag tayo mag-militar… (let’s not militarize the area),” said Cayetano, who will assume the role of secretary once he is confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.
He said the Philippines needs to be wise enough to find a way to work with the other nations and to manage the area for fisheries, tourism, investments and security.
Duterte, he said, wants to avoid a situation where the claimant countries are going against each other.
“So let me not go into the details ‘di ba, how we’ll get there, what will do there ganyan. But let me tell you this ‘no. Walang masasayang sa past efforts,” he said.
“Lahat ng past efforts, from President Marcos and even before, to President Aquino’s. Wala tayong sasayangin. So ibig sabihin bawat bala na binigay sa atin na pabor sa Pilipinas, nandiyan ‘yan,” he said.
(So let me not go into the details, how we’ll get there, what we’ll do there. But let me tell you this: past efforts won’t be wasted. All past efforts, from President Marcos and even before, to President Aquino’s. We will not waste anything. And that means all of our bullets and arguments that are favorable to the Philippines are still there.)
Cayetano said it is a matter of strategy and not diplomacy and that the President will be given the option to choose when he will act.
Cayetano refused to discuss the details of his plans in negotiating the Code of Conduct in South China Sea with the other concerned nations.
He merely said that the COC should allow the neighboring countries to work together.
Cayetano is in Cambodia to join Duterte and other Philippine officials at the World Economic Forum on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). Before arriving in Cambodia, Duterte confirmed that he has nominated the senator for the post of foreign affairs secretary.
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