Cayetano appeals to Aquino: Join national debate on dispute with China


MANILA – Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday said he did not intend to disrespect former President Benigno Aquino III when he posted an open letter hitting the ex-chief executive for losing control of shoals in the West Philippine Sea to China during his presidency.

“I meant no disrespect to him and I did not start this argument with him. It was he who had an interview saying please be more transparent,” Cayetano told reporters.

At the same time, Cayetano said he was open to discussing the issue with Aquino and other critics of the proposal to hold joint explorations with China.

“We are taking our responsibility very seriously in providing for future Filipino generations. If we can come up with a framework that is win-win-win, why not?” Cayetano said.

“I am really hoping, praying, and appealing to President Aquino: Be part of the national debate. I’m ready any time, any place if he wants a one-on-one debate,” he said.

Cayetano said it was better to have an alternative, as the government seeks ways to resolve the long-standing territorial dispute with the Asian giant.

“I am not taking away from President Aquino that his administration has also done some good things even some great things but having said that, his administration is not infallible,” Cayetano said.

“I’m not saying our approach is perfect. But I’m asking former President Aquino, what is your alternative?” he added.