The bluff on China: Inquirer A Chinese flag fluttering in front an oil refinery in Shanghai,


MANILA (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – On Wednesday, at the hearing of the congressional special committee on the West Philippine Sea, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano faced question after question about the weak Philippine response to Chinese provocation in the South China Sea.

He forcefully denied that the response was weak, and also made an incredible claim – that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has filed many diplomatic protests against China: “Several dozens, maybe 50, 100 – I’ll have to count it – over the past two years.”

This sounds like the idea just occurred to the smooth-talking former campaign spokesperson and senator.

He could not even give an exact number, yet another sign that this country’s foreign policy is being implemented on the fly.

But the main reason why Cayetano’s astounding claim that the DFA had taken diplomatic action against China dozens of times is specious lies in his own, special, nontextbook definition of “diplomatic protest” – “When we file a note verbale, that’s a protest …. If we list down everything, that’s a protest. If we list down 10 things, then we ‘protest’ 10 things. It’s the content. If I get the microphone and I say, ‘China, what you’re doing is wrong,’that’s a protest.”

Only the first counts as diplomatic protest.