Back-Channel, Back-Room, Back-Bite
It’s more fun in the Senate.
In the latest spectacle, Sen. Antonio Trillanes in a privilege speech accused Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile of railroading a bill dividing Camarines Sur into two, a Nueva Camarines and presumably a Vieja Camarines. This “gerrymandering” will reportedly favor the political ambitions of Camarines Gov. Luis Villafuerte, the political adversary of the late Jesse Robredo; and Datu Arroyo, the son of ex-President GMA. Trillanes said JPE was “beholden to GMA” and a GMA “lackey”.
JPE retaliated by claiming Trillanes’ accusations were in response to his denying him a bigger budget for his committee. He said Trillanes was an ingrate who had forgotten he was responsible for Trillanes’ release from prison.
And there was more.
JPE accused Trillanes of being “ a coward” and a “fraud” questioning the former naval officer’s patriotism. It appears since May 2012, upon the authority of Malacanang, Trillanes has conducted “back-channel” negotiations with the Chinese Government to de-escalate the Scarborough Shoal dispute. This was an end- run around DFA Sec. Albert del Rosario.
China is opposed to the Philippines’ official stance to take up the Scarborough matter in a multilateral forum with the U.S. and the ASEAN. China understandably prefers a bilateral discussion where it can apply its superior commercial and military leverage over us. China is about face, opaqueness and quiet conversations. The talks with Trillanes offered China an opportunity to privately address an issue that was generating bad international press.
In the course of his discussions, Trillanes is said by JPE to have denigrated Sec. Del Rosario and to have essentially sold the Philippines down the river. JPE quotes from notes allegedly taken by Philippine Ambassador to China, Sonia Brady. The latter, incidentally, has succumbed to a medical condition, whether or not precipitated by the stress of her work it is unclear.
Trillanes claims he “accomplished his mission” by diffusing the Scarborough dispute “by 95%”. There used to be ’80-100 Chinese vessels “ in the area, there are now only around three. If you do the math, by this yardstick he is about right.
Here is my take: