MANILA — Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile branded last week Senator Antonio Trillanes IV a fraud and a coward after he stormed out of the Senate plenary session while he was being grilled on his clandestine meetings with Chinese officials at the height of the country’s territorial dispute with Beijing.[box type=”default” size=”large”] Neophyte senator grilled on his secret talks with Chinese officials [/box]“He can’t take the heat. He’s a coward,” Enrile said as Trillanes left the hall.
Enrile then began reading the notes of former Philippine ambassador to China, Sonia Brady, about her meeting with Trillanes in which the senator allegedly accused Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario of treason.
Before Trillanes walked out, Enrile confronted him about his activities in China.
“You went to China, you asked the ambassador of the Philippines there, Madam Brady, for a meeting and you said, ‘Don’t take notes during our conversation’ and you called the Secretary of Foreign Affairs a traitor. In fact, you told me that he committed treason,” Enrile told Trillanes shortly before he walked out.
News reports identified Trillanes as the Palace’s backdoor negotiator with China at the height of tension over the Scarborough Shoal in April, but Malacañang said President Benigno Aquino III had not asked the senator to take that role.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters that it was Trillanes who offered his services to help ease tensions between Manila and Beijing, and that President Aquino only took the offer as part of his policy to “keep all options open.”
But Enrile said Trillanes had met secretly with Chinese officials and sought to protect Beijing’s interests.
Imagine talking to an enemy, a potential enemy of this country 16 times? What did he discuss with these people? Who initiated the discussion? Did he or did they? Did they pay for his trip to Beijing?” he said. “My God, this guy is a fraud.”
Brady’s notes also showed that Trillanes had told her that nobody in the Philippines cares about the Scarborough Shoal.
“My God what kind of a senator is this?” Enrile said.
Enrile said he learned of Trillanes’s mission during a Cabinet meeting last July when Trillanes reportedly aired some complaints against the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Enrile said he was not sure if Trillanes had sought a travel authority from him to go to China.
He also said he kept the assignment a secret because that was the nature of back channeling. (Manila Standard Today)