MANILA—House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Monday that Malaysia and Vietnam occupy more islands than China in the West Philippine Sea.
"Maraming hindi may alam, mas marami po na-occupy ang Malaysia at Vietnam sa West Philippine Sea. Kaso sa China, mas malaki lang sa China. Na meron na ring military installations," the former Foreign Affairs Secretary told radio DZMM.
Cayetano also defended President Rodrigo Duterte's strategy on the West Philippine Sea, saying it was during the administration of former President Noynoy Aquino that the country lost islands to China.
"Tingnan niyo ang nangyari noong panahon ni President Aquino. Nawala sa'tin ang Scarborough, kinancel ang importation ng saging, mangga at iba pang prutas. Tapos ang Thailand ay nakakakuha ng 10 million Chinese tourists, tayo ay 500,000," he said.
Cayetano also dismissed calls by critics to stand up against China's incursion over the resource-rich waters.
"That's why I respectfully disagree with [Senior Associate] Justice [Antonio] Carpio and [Former Foreign Affairs] Secretary [Albert] Del Rosario kasi sinasabi nila, 'pag hindi ka umangal in public, wala na 'yan. Eh kung totoo 'yun, eh 'di lahat ng nasa Malaysia at Vietnam ngayon, wala na sa atin. Eh we're still claiming that, that's inside our EEZ [exclusive economic zone]," he said.
Cayetano urged the public and media to view the issue with more discernment.
"Ibahin lang natin 'yung domestic, political issues sa international issues. Kase sa domestic issues, zero-sum game... Pero sa international relations kasi, diplomacy, mahaba 'yun eh. At 'yung diplomacy, may security, may economics, may OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] tayo," he said.—Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News