Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday, May 18 called President Duterte’s move to resurrect an old issue and blame the past Aquino administration for losing the West Philippine Sea to China as a mere “malevolent diversionary scheme.”
“[It’s] a malevolent diversionary scheme. Duterte’s persistent finger-pointing at the PNoy administration on the West Philippine Sea/Scarborough issue, (but) this time training their vicious sights on Sen. (Antonio) Trillanes,” De Lima said in a statement.
“They think we can forget about Duterte’s treason. No way!” she emphasized.
During a taped meeting with President Duterte aired on Monday night, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile raised the issue about Trillanes’ participation during the 2012 standoff in Panatag Shoal.
A vocal critic of the Duterte administration and of Enrile, Trillanes had earlier declared his intent to run for the presidency in the upcoming May 2022 elections.
But during the presser, Duterte and Enrile sought to revive the issue of the ex-lawmaker’s role in the negotiations and accused him of bypassing then Ambassador to China Sonia Brady.
But Trillanes reiterated that President Benigno Aquino III, during that time, tapped him to help deescalate the tension in the shoal after around 80 to 100 Chinese vessels swarmed the area. He successfully accomplished his mission and the number of Chinese ships were reduced to just three.
De Lima said it is apparent that Duterte and his allies are bent on muddling the issue on the WPS to serve China’s interest.
“Dyan sa magaling, ang pagbabaligtad sa realidad. (They’re good at that, reversing the reality. (They are) experts at obfuscation,” she said.