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Latest News Philippines: CLASH IN SENATE –

TENSION gripped the Senate session yesterday afternoon when Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Antonio Trillanes IV engaged in a squabble which all started with the passage of a bill creating a new province out of Camarines Sur but eventually led to the younger lawmaker’s “secret dealings” with the Chinese on the Spratlys dispute.

Trillanes insisted that he had been authorized, although not in black and white (officially), by President Benigno Aquino to conduct some “back channelling” efforts with concerned Chinese officials to peacefully resolve the conflict between Manila and Beijing concerning overlapping claims to the Spratly islands in the West Philippine Sea.

In his privilege speech, Trillanes accused Enrile of trying to bully his way to approve a proposed measure creating Nueva Camarines.

The Senate chief shrugged off Trillanes’s claim and insinuated that he raised the issue to “camouflage” his rift with Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario after the former Navy officer reportedly recommended to the President to charge the DFA chief with treason for trying to wage war against China.  

Trillanes tried very hard to stop Enrile from reading the “notes” made by former Ambassador to China Sonia Brady regarding the former’s meeting with Chinese officials on the ground that it will tackle national security. With the approval of Senate Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Enrile went on to read  Brady’s notes. This prompted Trillanes to stage a walk out.

Enrile said that he wanted to “unmask” Trillanes. He even described Trillanes as “the phantom of Philippine politics.” Enrile told Trillanes that he was just sore because he declined his request for additional budget. Trillanes denied the allegation.

According to Brady, Trillanes told the Chinese that the Philippines “does not care about the Panatag Shoal.” Enrile said: “He said,’Sa Pilipinas walang may gusto sa amin ng panatag.’ Pilipino ba ‘yan? Makabayan ba ‘yan? My God, what kind of a senator is this?”  

“In the height of the problem, he was suspecting that the Americans were involved in the conflict. He ascertained he did not want any conflict in election year, referring to the Chinese,” Enrile said.

“He told the Chinese that we cannot enforce our coastal protection. That is the kind of the Filipino senator we have here. Ibig sabihin ipamigay na lang natin ang Scarborough Shoal pagka’t tayo ay duwag,” Enrile said.

He added: “Napakagaling naman ng admiral na ito. The senator was saying that Secretary Del Rosario should be replaced by Mar Roxas. Knowing that reports are coursed through DFA, the senator said he would give an alternate channel so that communications can go directly to Palace (Malacañang).”

”He (Trillanes) arrogated to himself to become the channel of foreign policy to Malacañang. He was working with bilateral relations with China. In a (recent) meeting with the Cabinet, it was agreed that we should not do that. I do not want to discuss any more this sordid matter. It is enough that I read the notes of Ambassador Brady to unmask this phantom of the opera in Philippine politics,” Enrile stressed.


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