By Roy Mabasa
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday said repeating the approach of the Aquino administration on the South China Sea (SCS) issue is similar to German physicist Albert Einstein’s definition of stupidity – to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
“Their problem is they want to impose their strategy on this administration. And the problem is their strategy was not working. What’s Einstein’s definition of stupidity? To keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result,” Cayetano told journalists shortly before he flew to Singapore for the 51st ASEAN ministerial meeting.
He said the Aquino administration’s approach of filing a case, confronting China in the multilateral settings instead of engaging bilaterally, “did not produce the needed results.”
Cayetano noted that from the surface, the past administration’s strategy “looks like it’s a very brave and courageous strategy. “But actually it doesn’t produce results, In fact, we are losing areas under our control.”
“What happened during their term? No fishing, no agreement on the safety of life at the seas, unabated destruction of the environment? Not to mention the economics. Our farmers are suffering especially those in Mindanao. We’re exporting pineapples and bananas. The rest of the ASEAN are building infrastructures for tourism, which is a big equalizer because it’s a very inclusive industry. And we were losing out on the tourism,” he added.
When the Duterte administration assumed office, Cayetano said three out of four of the country’s sovereign rights under the arbitration award are being implemented, namely the tentative agreements on fishery and environmental protection, and the safety of tentative agreement on environmental protection and an arrangement on the safety of those who are in the seas in times of storm or high waves.
The fourth one, he added, is concerning the oil and gas exploration in which both sides are still looking for a framework that will not damage the country’s claims and on the opposite, will not put China’s place in danger.
At the same time, Cayetano scored the former president for calling on the Duterte administration to be more transparent in its strategy on the SCS.
“On the contrary, maybe President Aquino should ask Secretary (Albert) Del Rosario: Were you transparent with me?” he said.
Cayetano claimed that during the time of Del Rosario as secretary, the DFA had no complete records on who really ordered Philippine ships to leave the Scarborough Shoal during the 2012 standoff.
As for the Duterte administration’s approach, Cayetano said all the meetings are on record such as those with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top Beijing officials.
“I’m open about talks with China that goes beyond the normal revelation of information just to keep the people and media in the loop, “ he said.