Former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday advised Senator Manny Pacquiao to address his concerns on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) row privately to President Rodrigo Duterte.
During a press conference on June 11 after the Cavite leg of his Sampung Libong Pag-Asa live virtual program where he and his allies distributed P10,000 in cash aid to 500 beneficiaries in Cavite Province, Cayetano said public officials should avoid debating in public when it comes to sensitive issues.
“I think politicians should be statesmen when it comes to this. Hindi lahat ng tungkol sa South China Sea ay sa publiko pag-uusapan (Not everything about the South china Sea should be discussed in public),” he said.
Cayetano’s advice came after a verbal tussle ensued between Duterte and Pacquiao last week after the latter said the President’s response was “not enough.”
Pacquiao is the incumbent president of PDP-Laban, Duterte’s political party, and a known ally of the current administration.
“Nakukulangan ako kumpara doon sa bago pa siya tumakbo, nage-eleksyon pa lang. Dapat ipatuloy niya yun para magkaroon din naman tayo ng respeto [galing sa China],” Pacquiao had said.
(It isn’t enough when compared to the time when he was running for President. He should keep his word so that China will respect us.)
Duterte hit back at the Senator for failing to do research on foreign policy before commenting on the issue.
Cayetano’s advice to Pacquiao was for him to see the President in private.
“If you don’t agree with his policies, see him in private, lalo na iyong maselan (especially if it’s about sensitive issues),” he said.
Cayetano, who was Secretary of Foreign Affairs from 2017 to 2019, reiterated that Duterte enjoys vast discretion over the country’s foreign policy due to his position as President.
“That is why if you review the Constitution, usually, pagdating sa foreign affairs, nasa Presidente ‘yan,” he said.
(That is why if you review the Constitution, it’s the President who handles foreign affairs.)
The former Speaker also argued that the country never lost any of its territory under the current administration.
“I can assure you, not a single square inch, was given up to China. Walang bagong tinayo ang China, Vietnam, Malaysia, pati Pilipinas sa panunungkulan ni President Duterte,” Cayetano said.
(No new structure was built by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines under President Duterte’s administration.)