No ‘secret talks’ with China: Cayetano

MANILADepartment of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday assured the public the administration has not engaged China in "secret meetings" amid transparency calls on the issue of the West Philippine Sea.??

This comes after former President Benigno Aquino III called on the Duterte administration to disclose its negotiations with Beijing on the bilateral settlement of the territorial dispute.??

Cayetano said the DFA made efforts to reach out with government agencies, the Congress, and some media outfits, as well as the opposition.

??"I've offered briefings and even those that are classified. I've spoken about talks with China that goes beyond a normal revelation of information of what's been going to make the people and the media in the loop," he told reporters in a press briefing.??

We have had no secret meetings, all the meetings are on the record," he added.??

The official underscored that all meetings between the administration and the Chinese government were "all on record," from the levels of President Rodrigo R. Duterte and President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Kequiang, down to his talks with China's new vice president Wang Qishan.??

Some of them are even on Facebook live. There are no secret deals. We are working out the issues, the issues are being discussed," he said.??

Cayetano claimed the previous administration should be the one answering questions on transparency.??

On the contrary, maybe President Aquino should ask Secretary (Albert) del Rosario: 'We're you transparent with me?'" he said, adding that there is no complete report at the agency on who ordered the Philippine forces to leave Scarborough Shoal during a standoff in 2012.

??"I have some of the reports but it's not complete, ang nakalagay lang, 'O hintayin natin 'yong text ni Senator (Antonio) Trillanes sabi ni presidente,' then nawala na 'yong ships, so sinong nagsabing tanggalin? Hindi naman nila kinumpleto 'yong records (what I saw only is this: 'let's wait for the text of Senator (Antonio) Trillanes as ordered by the president'. Then the ships are gone, who ordered them to leave? They did not complete the records)."??

Meanwhile, he called on critics to look at the administration's overall strategy and goals, not just the approach.??

We are not enemies. We want the same thing but we don't agree on the approach to get that thing but it's not true that we are not transparent."??

Cayetano left Manila on Tuesday morning to attend the 51st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Singapore, where an update is expected on the negotiation for the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency