President Duterte urged the public to demand the truth about the West Philippine Sea issue from former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, saying the Philippines lost Scarborough Shoal to China after his backchannel talks with Beijing officials.
Duterte made the statement after former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said that it remained a mystery to him how Trillanes was able to talk to high-ranking Chinese officials when former President Benigno Aquino III and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario do not even have that kind of connection.
In his pre-recorded public address on Monday evening, Duterte said Trillanes should explain to the public what really happened during the supposedly 16 times he went to China.
“One of these days maybe the Filipino people should demand the truth,” he said.
“If they cannot get it from the mouth of #Trillanes, then at least some people in the foreign ministry, perhaps [former Philippine] Ambassador [to China Sonia] Brady can explain,” he added.
“There is a monkey-wrench at arriving at the truth,” he continued.
President Duterte, who confessed to appointing retired military officials because they get the job done, expressed wonder why former President Benigno Aquino III would tap Trillanes to talk to Beijing.
“It is really a wonder to me why he (Aquino) chose a military man (Trillanes) to do the backchanneling. The problem is, it was so secretive,” he said.
Enrile, for his part, also wondered the same thing, adding that Trillanes should explain his connection with China.
“Siguro ang dapat tingnan natin saan ba nanggaling ang koneksyon ni Trillanes sa Beijing (Perhaps what we should look at is where Trillanes’ connection with Beijing came from),” he said.
In response, Trillanes said Aquino picked him to do the backchannel talks because he was more trustworthy compared to Enrile.
Wag nyo ibahin ang usapan, wala sa Scarborough ang problema. Nalutas na ni PNoy yun. Wala ng mga barko ng China sa loob nun. Wala ring reclamation dun. Nasa Spratlys ngayon ang problema na ayaw harapin ni duterte.#duterteTraydor— Sonny Trillanes IV (@TrillanesSonny) May 17, 2021
“Why did PNoy appoint me as backchannel negotiator? Because he found me trustworthy, unlike Enrile,” he said.
The former Senator likewise said that President Duterte is diverting the issue.
“‘Wag niyo ibahin ang usapan, wala sa Scarborough ang problema. Nalutas na ni PNoy yun. Wala ng mga barko ng China sa loob nun. Wala ring reclamation dun (Do not change the subject. The problem is not Scarborough, that was solved by PNoy already. There were no ships nor reclamations there),” he said.
“Nasa Spratlys ngayon ang problema na ayaw harapin ni Duterte (The problem is the Spratlys which President Duterte refuses to face),” he added.