- Former special envoy to China Sen. Antonio Trillanes narrated his account as an eyewitness of Scarborough Shoal stand-off
- He was blaming former President Benigno Aquino and former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on how PH lost its claims over the shoal
- Trillanes narrated all this in his secret aide memoire
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In an article written by Rigoberto Tiglao in The Manila Times, the author discussed how Philippines lost Panatag Shoal or Scarborough Shoal to China in a stand-off. KAMI learned that the revelation came from former special envoy to China, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
Back in 2012, Trillanes wrote a secret aide memoire titled, “Summary of Backchannel Talks (12 May to 16 August 2012)”. In the senator’s narrative, it all began when former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III sent Philippine Navy warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar to help the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in arresting Chinese who were allegedly fishing illegally in the shoal. In return, China sent some vessels of Chinese Maritime Surveillance and some private fishing vessels so that PCG won’t arrest their fishermen.
A stand-off then began. China and Philippines wouldn’t leave the area because those who will leave or abandon the shoal will lose its control over it. Both countries stayed and used it for fishing. According to Trillanes’ narrative, former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario ordered the pull out of the navy ship without the authorization of President Aquino. Since then, the Philippines lost its claims over Panatag Shoal.
Former Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa asked Trillanes to reconnect with his contact in Beijing amid the rising tension between Philippines and China over the shoal.
“During the first week of May 2012, while in a meeting with Executive Secretary Ochoa, the rising tension in the Scarborough Shoal was brought up and he asked if I could help open a back channel with China. I told him that I could reconnect with my contact in Beijing, which I established during my study visit there last November 2011. However, I specifically requested that it should be authorized by the President.
ES then told me that he would take care of it and that PNoy would probably approve it since, at that time PNoy had already called for Filipino-Chinese tycoons and asked for their help in finding a line to Beijing,” Trillanes narrated as an eyewitness.
Philippines’ banana exports were also being quarantined and Chinese tourists were discouraged to visit the country. The loan for North Rail Project under former Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration was also part of the conversation. Trillanes then talked to China to resolve the issues “peacefully and diplomatically”.
“During the exploratory meeting, I delivered PNoy’s message and the Beijing negotiators likewise delivered an almost identical message of wanting to resolve the stand-off peacefully and diplomatically. They also received the confidence- building requests and asked for a little time to get the approval of Beijing. After 24 hours, they informed me that the bananas can now enter China and, as for the loan, our finance officials can now go to Beijing so that the loan could be restructured. I relayed this development to PNoy and told him that Beijing only requested that he delegate to his subordinates the issuance of statements in relation to the stand-off so that the issue would be downgraded. Besides, they told me that his counterpart, then President Hu Jinato, wasn’t issuing statements directly. PNoy agreed with this request,” Trillanes stated.
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And then, Aquino informed Trillanes about the Philippine vessel has left the shoal. Trillanes asked who agreed for the Philippines to leave the area first.
“PNoy responded to this effect, “kaya nga sinabihan ko si Albert kung bakit niya pinalabas yung BFAR na hindi ko nalalaman.” Anyway, PNoy said the situation is grave because he won’t be able to leave for Washington while the two CMS vessels are still inside the shoal,” Trillanes quipped.
“On June 15, PNoy informed me again that he has ordered the pull-out of the two remaining PCG ships from the shoal citing the incoming typhoon as the reason and directed me to ask Beijing to reciprocate. I immediately informed the Beijing negotiators about this development and again, they immediately responded by sending back all the remaining fishing boats and dinghies to China. Only eight CMS vessels remain at this time,” Trillanes added.
In a report by ABS-CBN News, the Scarborough Shoal also became a territory of United States when they colonized the Philiipines. However, it was transferred to the Philippines in 1946 upon declaration of independence.
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