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Trillanes admits not coordinating with DFA chief on backchannel talks

September 23, 2012 2:15pm

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Sunday admitted he did not talk to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario about his backchannel talks with China – a move that was intended to ease the tension over the latest territorial row between the two countries.

In a radio interview, Trillanes said it was not his responsibility to talk to Del Rosario, and that he assumed they were both working under one president.

“Hindi ko responsibilidad 'yan. Ina-assume ko isa lang ang presidente na pinagsisilbihan natin," he said in an interview on dzBB radio, when asked if he coordinated with Del Rosario.

Trillanes said he merely assumed someone else informed Del Rosario about it, and there should be no problem in that regard.

"Alam niya, nainpormahan siya na nagba-backchannel tayo. So walang naging gusot in that regard," he said.

Asked if he was not instructed to personally coordinate with del Rosario, he replied:

"Bakit ako mag-coordinate sa kanya. Hindi tayo under sa kanya. Buti sana kung functionary [ako] of the executive branch pwede siguro. Pero iba naman ang ating mission at  I assume ginawa na 'yan, may gumawa noon," he said.

President Benigno Aquino III had authorized Trillanes to conduct backchannel negotiations with China to ease the tension at the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, which China calls Huanyang Island.

But Malacañang insisted it was Trillanes who volunteered his services.

The issue became controversial when Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile read supposed notes by Ambassador to China Sonia Brady indicating Trillanes had called Del Rosario a “traitor.”

Aquino indicated last Friday he will personally talk to Trillanes on the matter.

In Malacañang, meanwhile, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Palace is not keen on calling Brady and asking her to shed light on her supposed notes.

Valte on Sunday said that while Aquino wants to talk to Trillanes, Brady is still recovering from a stroke. Brady returned to the country Friday.

“It is imperative her full recovery is the priority at the moment,” Valte said.

“We’d like to also appeal [to media] to allow Ambassador Brady to recover,” she added.

Meanwhile, Valte said new Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II may report to Aquino about his talks with China’s vice president last weekend.

Cordial talks

Malacañang, in a statement on Saturday, said Secretary Roxas's talks with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on “outstanding issues” were “constructive” and “cordial.”

Also, it said Roxas met with Xi at the 9th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning City last Friday. The president picked the secretary as a special envoy to Beijing.

“The meeting focused on the current outstanding issues between the two countries and on other dimensions of their bilateral relationship. Both the Philippines and China expressed their desire to resolve outstanding issues while moving forward with their bilateral relations,” the Palace said.

For his part, Xi “expressed appreciation” over Aquino’s decision to send Roxas as special envoy, the statement added.

"This [Roxas' visit] showed  the importance that President Aquino attaches to Philippines-China relations,” the statement quoted Xi as saying. — LBG, GMA News
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