SENATOR Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday laughed off the claim of outgoing US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg that he and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade made an unpublicized trip to China in June.
Speaking to reporters in Malacañang, Cayetano said there was nothing “fishy” or “malicious” about the trip he made to China.
“Is this an admission now that they are spying on us, on a Cabinet member and on a member of the Senate? Is
there anything wrong, malicious of me going to anywhere, to China?” Cayetano said in a news conference.
Cayetano, however, did not explain why he was in China last June. He said he would make a report to the Senate “at the right time.”
“The President does not tell people to go. And as I said I report at the Senate at the right time. I went to the US the year before. As all of you know I aspired for higher office before. And for me to fully understand international relations I went to the US last year June also,” he said.
“As a senator, I can meet my counterparts, I can travel. There is such a thing as interparliamentary relations,” Cayetano added.
Cayetano was President Rodrigo Duterte’s running mate in the May 9 elections. He lost to Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
Duterte had said Cayetano would be appointed secretary of Foreign Affairs when the one-year ban on appointing losing election candidates expires.
Goldberg, who is set to end his three-year stint as US ambassador to Manila, earlier told the ABS-CBN News Channel he was not surprised that the Philippines secured an estimated $24 billion in investment and loan pledges after Duterte’s state visit to China.
He noted that before Duterte’s state visit, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua and Chinese businessmen made frequent visits to Duterte last June.
Zhao first visited Duterte in May, when he delivered to the President a letter from Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Zhao visited the President again less than a month later.
“I actually wasn’t all that surprised. I do know that the Chinese ambassador and others in the Chinese business community were visiting [then]President-elect Duterte quite often in the month of June,” Goldberg said.
“I also know, and I don’t think this has been revealed publicly, but I know, that Senator Cayetano, President Duterte’s running mate, made an unpublicized trip to China in June along with Secretary [Arthur] Tugade,” he added.
Tugade has denied Goldberg claims, saying: “If it is true that Ambassador Goldberg said that, then the fabled American ‘intelligence network’ has miserably failed again. Tsismis ‘yan! [That’s gossip!] I was never in Beijing in June! Want proof? You can always examine my passport any time,” Tugade said.
Cayetano and Tugade joined Duterte in his state visit to China from October 18 to 21.
Cayetano said his frustration with Goldberg led him to ask Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. to “protest” the actions of the US envoy.
“I’m writing a letter to Secretary Yasay, I informed him yesterday to complain and to protest the actions of Ambassador Goldberg,” he said.
Cayetano also blasted Goldberg for spreading rumors.
“What business does the US ambassador or any ambassador have, monitoring trips or criticizing whether they are unpublicized or publicized? Is the US ambassador engaged in tsismis [rumors]and rumor-mongering, and in false information?” he asked.