The Aquino government has no qualms about the plans of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte to investigate how the Philippines supposedly lost the Scarborough Shoal to China.
Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. acknowledged that Duterte could make a sound judgment on the maritime issue by focusing on facts instead of conjecture.
“It’s the prerogative of the incoming President to seek and obtain complete and accurate information on matters of national interest, especially on foreign policy,” Coloma said in a text message to reporters.
“It will be well to go beyond the realm of conjecture and focus on confirmed facts from credible and authoritative resource persons as basis for sound policy and decision making,” he said.
Coloma, however, was mum on Duterte’s main allegation that the country lost one of its islands to China.
Duterte earlier said he was interested to find out how China was able to take control of Scarborough Shoal following the backchannel talks initiated by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV with the Beijing side. The backdoor talks were supposedly approved by President Aquino in an attempt to diffuse the tension at the Panatag Shoal back in 2012.
The country’s next president hinted that Trillanes could have committed treason for his secret talks with China that eventually led to the loss of the disputed shoal. “I would like to know from anybody in the executive department of the past administration why we lost the Scarborough Shoal,” Duterte said last Monday.
Malacañang earlier said the President has neither betrayed the country nor violated any law in pursuing a peaceful resolution to the territorial conflict in the South China Sea.
The statement was issued after the camp of Duterte filed treason charges against the President and Trillanes over the maritime dispute issue.
“There is no legal basis for the reported case filed against the President,” Coloma said. “We reiterate that the actions taken by the Government regarding the settlement of disputes in the South China Sea are rules-based, thus, we filed for arbitration under the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) rules,” he said.