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Cayetano escalates word war with PNoy on handling of WPS issue

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By Roy Mabasa

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday escalated his word war with former President Benigno Aquino III regarding the handling of the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue, calling the latter’s latest statement as “regrettable.”

Philippines' foreign affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano (R) and Myanmar's union minister for the Office of the State Counsellor U Kyaw Tint (L) attend the 51st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting (AMM) Plenary Session in Singapore on August 2, 2018. Leaders, ministers and representatives are meeting in the city-state from August 1 to 4 for the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM). / AFP PHOTO / Mohd RASFAN

Philippines’ foreign affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano (R) and Myanmar’s union minister for the Office of the State Counsellor U Kyaw Tint (L) attend the 51st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting (AMM) Plenary Session in Singapore on August 2, 2018. Leaders, ministers and representatives are meeting in the city-state from August 1 to 4 for the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM). (AFP PHOTO / Manila Bulletin)

“It’s regrettable that you chose to play with words, including comparing our haircuts, in responding to an immensely important issue about the situation at the WPS,” Cayetano said in an open letter to Aquino that he posted on his Facebook account.

“While we both lost some of our hair, your administration lost control of Scarborough and a great opportunity to expand tourism, infrastructure and agriculture, the DFA chief said .

Cayetano also blamed Aquino, former DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Sen. Antonio Trillanes for the approach they chose to adopt and implement in the WPS during their time.

“We also lost many opportunities to cooperation in fields like science and technology, protection of the environment, among others,” Cayetano added.

On Wednesday, the former president chided Cayetano’s conduct with Beijing, saying that the DFA secretary should be as “transparent as his hairstyle.”

In his open letter, Cayetano asked Aquino to respond to questions on people’s minds and help enrich public discussion on the WPS issue “rather than debate which administration is more transparent and/or mislead the people on many facets of this complicated situation.”

Cayetano floated several questions for the former president to answer, foremost of which are the details involving the back-channeling role of Trillanes and the circumstances on how the Philippines eventually lost control of the Scarborough Shoal at the height of the standoff in April 2012.

“You often reminded our people that we need solutions and not just plain criticisms. You are right about it. May we have your alternatives or proposals instead of merely criticizing the government today,” Cayetano told the former president in his open letter.

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