Ex-President Aquino appeals to Duterte admin for transparency on West Philippine Sea dispute - The Daily Sentry

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Ex-President Aquino appeals to Duterte admin for transparency on West Philippine Sea dispute

former President Noynoy Aquino with President Rodrigo Duterte / Presidential photo from GMA News

Manila, Philippines – Former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III appealed to Duterte administration to be more transparent in its negotiations with China when it comes to the West Philippine Sea issue.

Aquino said, negotiation transparency is important to properly address the concerns of the Filipino people and to avoid unwanted thoughts.

"Pakiusap. Baka pwede ipakita ang negosasyon nila, mas maging transparent tayo dito. Para mawala ang agam agam ng mga kababayan natin. Ang kawalan ng impormasyon, medyo kung ano ano ang papasok sa kaisipan," the former President said.

(Translation: Please, maybe they could show us their negotiations, to be more transparent so we can address the people's concerns. A lot of thoughts may come in people's minds with the lack of information.)

Aquino was among the guests during the Liberal International's awarding ceremony, where detained Senator Leila De Lima conferred the “Prize for Freedom” award.

Liberal Party senator Leila De Lima / photo from Manila Bulletin

Aquino slammed a statement of an official without dropping the name, who said that the Filipino fisherfolk are anyway permitted by China to fish in Scarborough Shoal.

"Tulad isang beses, may nabasa ako. Isang myembro ng kasalukuyang administrayon, sinabi na ngayon mas maganda na napapahintulutan na tayong mangisda sa tubig natin. Medyo hindi ako kumportable doon sa sinabing ganung statement," Aquino reiterated.*

(Translation: Once, I read a member of the current administration saying it's good that Filipino fishermen are now permitted to fish in our waters. I am somehow uncomfortable with that statement.)

Sometime in June, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque brought fishermen from Zambales in the Palace briefing to confirm that they can fish freely in Scarborough Shoal. This happened after reports came out that Chinese coast guards were taking their catch.

Then Aquino added: "Sa'yo ito, di ba exclusive economic zone, papahintulutan kang mangisda sa exclusive mo, parang may mali ho yata sa statement na 'yun."

(Translation: It is ours, it's in our exclusive economic zone, then they will allow you to fish within your exclusive territory. There seems to be something wrong with that statement.)

The former chief executive took the opportunity to say that, after the arbitration, China and the Philippines started conducting preliminary meetings on the creation of the Code of Conduct in the West Philippine Sea.*

the disputed West Philippine Sea / photo from Spot.ph

"Noong pagbaba ko sa pwesto, tapos noong arbitration, sinabi ng China na patungo na tayo doon," he said.

(Translation: When I stepped down from my post, during the arbitration, China said we were heading there.)

 "Matanong lang, andon na ang intensyon na magkikita na tayo. In 2002, may intensyon na noon. 2012 pinaalala ko sampung taon na ang tumakbo, wala pa rin tayong meeting d'yan. Nasa 2018 na tayo, papunta na nga ba talaga tayo doon na merong konkretong code of conduct?"

(Translation: May I ask, the intention was there for the two countries to meet. There was already an intention since 2002. In 2012, I reminded that 10 years have already passed, but still we had no meetings on that. It's now 2018, are we really going to have a concrete code of conduct?)

The code of conduct refers to the rules set outlining the norms, responsibilities and practices on the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Aquino also downplayed the recent election of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as the new House speaker, saying that it was her last term anyway.

"May more or less, effectively, ano pa ba ang magagawa sa kongreso sa natitirang period na ito na nagbukas ang session," the former executive said.

(Translation: What can be done effectively with the remaining period in the Congress when it opened?)