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Trillanes tells Cayetano: I helped reduce number of Chinese boats in Panatag

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Sunday said his actions as backchannel negotiator of the Benigno Aquino III administration at the height of the standoff in Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal helped reduce the number of Chinese vessels in the contested area.

Trillanes made the assertion in reaction to Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano's open letter to former President Benigno Aquino III.

In his letter, Cayetano asked what Trillanes' role was during the supposed back channel talks with China, and who he talked to among Chinese officials.

Trillanes said he was officially designated as the backchannel negotiator by Aquino in May 2012.

His mission, he said, was generally to "deescalate" the tension in the shoal and reduce the number of Chinese ships in the area.

"The negotiations lasted for about three months, at the end of which we were able to reduce the number of Chinese ships in the area to just three, all of which were positioned outside the shoal," Trillanes said in a statement.

"In short, I was able to accomplish my mission," he added.

In the letter, Cayetano also asked how the Philippines lost the Panatag Shoal to the Chinese and who was in charge during the crisis.

But Trillanes pointed out that at the time of the standoff Cayetano was still an ally of Aquino, but he "never saw anything wrong with how [Aquino] resolved it then."

"Secretary Cayetano has proven to be a political snake," Trillanes said.

As he clarified his points, Trillanes took his turn to ask Cayetano about his actions on the issue of the West Philippine Sea.

"Now the question to Cayetano and his boss, [President Rodrigo] Duterte, is this: Why didn't you follow through on our historic victory at the arbitrarion court?" 

"Or better yet: 'Why aren't you fighting for our sovereignty the way you promised during the campaign?'" Trillanes said.

Aquino, however, refused to answer Cayetano's questions, saying that answering them point-by-point would be "akin to presenting them with a gold mine of information and intelligence —a playbook, so to speak— on our country and our very strategy." —Erwin Colcol/LBG, GMA news