Trillanes 'no longer effective' as backchannel negotiator-A A +A
Monday, September 24, 2012
SENATOR Antonio Trillanes IV may no longer be viable as backroom negotiator for the Philippine government in resolving the territorial row with China at the West Philippine Sea because his role was already known to the public, a veteran senator said Monday.
"He may as well be a formal negotiator for the Philippine panel. His contacts or channels in China will no longer have the same effectiveness until this was reported out in the Philippine media because the Chinese Communist Party will know the moves of the Philippines in advance. This is a faux pas (blunder) in diplomacy by the Philippine government," Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said in a chance interview.
President Benigno Aquino III confirmed last week that he assigned Trillanes to talk with Chinese officials in a bid to ease tensions at the resource-rich Panatag Shoal. His meetings, which reached at least 16, reportedly resulted in the gradual pullout of Chinese ships inside the shoal.
"But apparently, there were parameters to his authority. He was limited only to Panatag Shoal. He had no authority to speak on other subjects. As to whether he was successful as a backchannel operator remains to be seen because even that is a subject for debate," Santiago said.
Trillanes's supposed clandestine meetings in Beijing were revealed by Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile following a spat over the alleged railroading of the bill dividing the province of Camarines Sur into two last week.
Enrile accused Trillanes of siding with Chinese interests by telling them that Filipinos are not interested in defending the shoal, based on the notes taken by Ambassador Sonia Brady in a meeting in Beijing on August 17.
The young senator reportedly established contacts with the People's Republic of China's Liberation Army as Enrile opined that Trillanes has crossed the treasonous line.
In a statement, Trillanes denied that Brady was present in any of his backchannel talks.
"The media could easily ask Consul Jimenez-Ducrocq to confirm this. So, if those Brady notes indeed exist, this is where she or Consul Jimenez-Ducrocq probably wrote it. Now, I absolutely don't see anything wrong about conducting a briefing and coordinating with Ambassador Brady," Trillanes said, as he slammed Enrile anew for exposing "state secrets."
Santiago supported Trillanes' view as she hit Enrile for violating the basic principle on international relations.
"Why did the Senate President obtain a copy of that report which is not meant for him and how did he manage to do that? That must never be revealed. We must never tell our antagonist or the other country which is having a difference with us on any matter of foreign policy, what we are doing or what our real sentiments are or what our real goals are," she said.
Santiago, a former chair of the Senate committee on foreign relations, saw nothing wrong with a legislator taking part in negotiations with other countries, saying no one should compartmentalize a public official.
Meantime, lawyer Oliver Lozano asked the Senate to investigate Trillanes' actions. He said the senators should be briefed on how he was able to convince China to withdraw some of its vessels.
"If you are a backdoor negotiator upon the dictation of China, you have no choice except to advance its interest to the prejudice of the Philippines. Treason or not, that is disloyalty to the Republic," he said in a letter to the Senate secretariat.
Lozano said the public should also know if Trillanes used state funds in his trips. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)