Press Release
August 31, 2018

*Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros's response to DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano challenged me to prove that his 50-100 diplomatic actions against China are fake, saying that he is willing to resign if his claims can be proven false.

The burden of proving the authenticity of the so-called 50-100 diplomatic actions lies with Secretary Cayetano, not with me. First, he was the one who bragged before a congressional hearing that his office undertook 50-100 diplomatic actions against China in the last two years. That would be one diplomatic action every week or every other week. If these were even true, Secretary Cayetano would go down in history as the country's most anti-China foreign affairs secretary.

Second, his department said that the Philippines has engaged in "85 diplomatic actions" under the Duterte administration, and 35 of these diplomatic actions were undertaken under the Secretary's leadership.

Third, when pressed to provide details regarding his so-called diplomatic actions against China, Secretary Cayetano backtracked, saying that they "haven't counted" the number of protests they have filed against Beijing. Secretary Cayetano even asserted that in a "purpose-driven foreign policy, how many doesn't really matter."

So, ano ba talaga, Secretary? 50-100 ba, 85, 35, hindi pa ninyo nabibilang o wala talagang bibilangin?

Secretary Cayetano said that he is only willing to divulge all the details of his 50-100 diplomatic actions in an executive session. He said that he doesn't want to publicly disclose the government's foreign affairs strategy. For the record, I'm not asking the Secretary to disclose state secrets. I'm not asking for the locations and movements of our security forces or our defensive positions in the West Philippine Sea. I'm simply asking him to tell us the exact number of his diplomatic actions against China, the dates and times they were made, the nature of his so-called protests, the issues that compelled him to take action and the number of times China responded. Are these really so hard to answer? How could these basic information compromise our national security? Secretary Cayetano is probably reading too many spy novels.

But since Secretary Cayetano likes to issue challenges, I challenge him to prove his claims true by opening to the Senate all DFA records since he took office and laying out all the details of each and every diplomatic action he took against China. Let the Senate interview, under oath, all foreign service personnel who may have knowledge of the diplomatic actions taken or not taken.

Secretary Cayetano, this is not about resigning. It's simply about telling the truth.

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