THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was never consulted in the construction of the controversial memorial for comfort women in Manila City that Japan found “regrettable,” Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said on Friday.
Cayetano said anything that would affect international relationships should undergo consultation.
“I’m not asking for veto power, veto power is you have to ask permission. It’s because we have freedom of speech,” Cayetano said when asked if he thought the DFA should have been consulted.
He said had the DFA been asked, it would go through several levels within the agency starting from the offices-in-charge of Japan, legal, policy, until it would reach his office.
“Then they will look at everything, they will look at what is the Philippines interest here. What’s the relationship,” he added.
Cayetano said that the issue was not as simple as saying that “we should not do that because Japan is our friend and we don’t want to offend them or because the issue has already been settled.”
“You also have to really consider the families that were affected, having said that you can’t strengthen your relationship long-term if you keep bringing up things,” he said.
Japan’s Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda conveyed her “deep regrets” over the statue.
The comfort women issue, said Cayetano, has been part of reparation and has officially been settled.
“But that does not stop any group and any individual and the Filipinos in general from seeking any kind of settlement, justice etc.” he said.
Cayetano said that while the issue has been part of reparation there were still many who were not satisfied.
He said the while he respected the feelings of the comfort women and their families, and what they wanted to do, the government could not just ask Japan to reopen the issue or do something unilaterally.
“We’re not in a position to tell any of the family of the comfort women do this, don’t do this, do that…” he said. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA