Cayetano requests ‘leeway’ in queries about COC scope, nature

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano  requested “latitude” when asked about information on the highly anticipated negotiations of Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
“I request some latitude because there are a lot of issues (that) when you talk about it, it harms the negotiation, or makes it more emotional or more subject to you nationalist feelings,” Cayetano told reporters at the Marriott Hotel on the sidelines of an informal trilateral meeting with Indonesia and Malaysia.
“Trust your diplomats, trust your leaders,” he said. “These issues are not hidden from them, these issues are known from them but it will not serve the negotiations well if every step of the way, they will announce it.”
Cayetano assured that he already clarified this with member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the world powers.
“If we keep debating whether it should be legally binding or just binding, if we keep debating that, we might not be able to sit down in the first place and get it done.”
Cayetano said when negotiating, involved parties already know what they want, which is the strongest possible agreement.
“If you keep announcing it, it will harm the negotiation, with your understanding I won’t answer that directly but of course no one will ignore, I mean even China will not ignore, the militarization in the South China Sea.”
“We won’t ignore it but how it will be specifically treated, give us some latitude in the negotiations, consultations,” he said. (PNA)