Former President Fidel V. Ramos has resigned as the Philippines’ special envoy to China.
President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Ramos as special envoy in July to thaw Philippines-China relations after years of tension over claims in the South China Sea.
“The moment the President came back from China from a successful state visit I resigned as special envoy to China because the officials have taken over,” Ramos told GMA News.
“I’ve done my job to… break the ice and to help restore the ties of goodwill and friendship,” he added in an interview after paying tribute to the departed Thai King Bhumibol Adulaydej at the Thai Embassy in Makati City.
Ramos made the disclosure after writing several opinion columns criticizing Duterte.
In a column published by Manila Bullentin early this month, Ramos on occasion of Duterte’s 100th day in office said the President did not hit the ground running during the first months of his administration.
He said the government was “stuck in unending controversies about extra-judicial killings of drug suspects and in his ability at using cuss-words and insults instead of civilized language.”
Ramos, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, also chided Duterte for declaring a foreign policy independent from the US.
Ramos said countries have become interconnected and that Duterte’s “independent foreign policy” may not be the way to go.
Duterte, shortly after his electoral victory, credited Ramos for convincing him to run for President.
“I still consider myself a part of the Duterte team whether they like it or not. But I am free to give friendly advice and that is part of our democratic culture,” Ramos said.
The former President said his newspaper commentaries were meant to help solve the country’s problems.
“You must consider me an older brother of the big, big, big Filipino family because of my long service in government,” Ramos said.
“I must be considered by everybody, including the present President as an older brother of the family,” he added.
“Those who wish the big Filipino family peace, sustainable development, progress and a place of respect and even admiration in the family of nations, must get together and look for the best solutions to the problems,” Ramos said.
“That is my attitude,” he added.
Panatag Shoal, fishing rights
Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping in October had bilateral talks and reportedly discussed the overlapping claims in the South China Sea, particularly in the Scarborough Shoal.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said Duterte raised the issue of the Filipino’s traditional fishing rights at the Panatag Shoal with Xi.
“There was no expressed agreement but it seems like the traditional rights of our fishermen are being respected,” Esperon said in a phone interview with reporters.
Filipino fishermen were already able to sail and fish at the Panatag Shoal days after Duterte returned from his trip to China.
Esperon said no agreement was reached during the bilateral talks when Duterte raised the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration upholding the country’s exclusive economic zone and the Filipinos’ traditional fishing rights.
Xi, in turn, reportedly raised China’s historical claims.
“Basta nag-usap ang dalawang presidente at hindi natapos yun dahil ang position ng China is may historical rights sila dun, tayo may historical rights tayo at saka nanalo tayo sa Arbitral Tribunal, yun ang position ni Digong (Duterte’s nickname),” Esperon said.
“Hindi sila nagtagal doon (sa issue) dahil marami silang ibang pag-uusapan so walang agreement,” he added.
source: gma news