Ex-President Duterte urged to disclose details of meeting with Xi, as visit sparks speculations


Invoking the need for full public disclosure, former Senate President Franklin Drilon prodded former President Rodrigo Duterte to render “public disclosure of the discussions and issues” tackled in Duterte’s meeting with China President Xi Jinping.

Drilon, in a radio interview, stressed the “importance of transparency, accountability, and the public’s right to information,” highlighting the need for the Filipino people to be informed about the outcomes of such a significant meeting, especially if it involves the country’s claims on the West Philippine Sea.

“I think it is important that former President Duterte make public the discussion and the issues that they discussed during the meeting,” said Drilon.

In the same interview, the ex-Senate leader suggested “out of respect and courtesy to the sitting President, I call on former President Duterte to either disclose or, at the very least, provide a briefing to President [Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.] or Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.”

Drilon reminded, “In our system of government, the formulation of foreign policy lies within the purview of the President, who acts as the chief architect.”

Moreover, the former Senate President stressed: “It is of utmost importance to ensure that the President is well-informed of this significant encounter with one of the world’s most powerful leaders.”

In addition, Drilon asserted “with former President Duterte’s stature and influence, Duterte’s views and actions continue to carry weight and may be interpreted in various ways, particularly by President Xi Jinping.

“Kapag kausap mo na ang lider ng ibang ibang government, dapat iisa lang ang ating position. Baka kung hindi, hihina ang position ng ating pamahalaan,” said Drilon.

He further reminded: “Hindi ito simpleng private visit. The former President is not an ordinary Filipino. His views will always be taken seriously by Xi Jinping. Ito po ay dapat malaman ng DFA,” the senator stressed, reminding, “the issues that were potentially raised during the meeting involved our national sovereignty.”

“Therefore,” he stressed that the DFA “should be briefed on the details of the meeting, as it is not a matter of private concern but one that affects the entire nation,” he said.

At the same time, the former Senate leader underscored “the importance of maintaining a unified stance on matters of national interest, such as the West Philippine Sea issue, to avoid weakening the country’s position.”

In addition, Drilon aired hopes that former President Duterte’s visit would not influence President Marcos’ stance on the West Philippine Sea issue.

The Senate Minority Leader reminded that former President Duterte’s visit coincided with an impending “strongly worded resolution” urging the government to bring China’s harassment of Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

At the same time, Drilon deplored that Duterte’s visit occurred “at a time when trust in China among Filipinos has been declining.”

In a recent ambush interview, President Marcos had said he was “aware” of Duterte’s trip to Beijing and indicated he had no problem with it. It is better, he added, that the Philippines use as many options as possible to engage China, especially given the important economic relations between the two neighbors despite their tensions on maritime issues.


FOREIGN policy and security experts see the meeting between Duterte Xi in Beijing as part of China’s implied message to the Philippines of its displeasure over President Marcos’ shift in foreign policy.

For former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio though, he believes that Duterte may already be looking for a place to seek refuge in the event the ICC issues a warrant of arrest on him.

China is not a signatory of the Rome Statute that created the ICC to bring to justice heads of states or state actors who commit crimes against humanity.

Duterte and Xi held a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing last Monday, in what the Chinese Embassy in Manila described as a “private meeting between friends.”

The meeting was filmed by the Chinese state television China Central Television (CCTV).

The DFA said it was not aware of the visit of former President Duterte.

President Marcos also “seem to unaware” of Duterte’s visit and meeting as the President said he would like that Duterte share to him what he and Xi discussed, Carpio said.

“It looks like former President Duterte is conducting his own foreign affairs, foreign policy. So that’s strange,” Carpio said during a forum with international studies students at the De La Salle University.

Carpio added that former presidents who travel overseas normally notify the DFA and the Embassy concerned.

“My suspicion is that because of the looming warrant of arrest to be issued by the ICC, he might be looking for a place of refuge because China is not a member of ICC and he might just want to be protected by China because he may not be confident that he will always be protected by the Philippine government,” he added.

Prof. Rommel Ong of Ateneo de Manila University School of Government said the visit of Duterte in itself is already “the message.”

“The visit—even if it is not clear what was discussed—is the message itself. The next question is—who is the target of the message itself,” Ong, a retired rear admiral of the Philippine Navy, said.

Prof. Ong said the administration of Marcos has adopted policies, which are not favorable to China, such as the expansion of military access to the US under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and the holding of joint patrols.

“In a way, we have already disrupted the strategy of China. They need to recover. From an optics perspective, they need to regain the battle of the narrative,” he explained.

Image credits: Yin Bogu/Xinhua via AP