Sen. Cayetano lashes at former U.S. ambassador for ‘interfering’ with PH politics

From L-R, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Sec. Arthur Tugade, U.S. Amb. Philip Goldberg (Photos: / /

By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano shot back at outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg over the latter’s recent remark that he and Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade made an “unpublicized” trip to China prior to President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit to Beijing.

Cayetano stressed there was nothing suspicious about the China trip being “unpublicized” because unlike the President, public officials are not obligated to issue departure and arrival statements every time they leave the country.

“First of all, Sec. Tugade and myself, we’re not the President. We don’t have departure or arrival statements so what does he mean by unpublicized trips? The reality is that it is only the President’s trips that are publicized,” said Cayetano.

“I’m a senator. I don’t need the President to tell me to do something. If he tells me to do something, I will follow. But as a senator, I can meet my counterparts, I can travel. There is such a thing as inter-parliamentary relations,” insisted Cayetano.

Cayetano further questioned the U.S. Ambassador’s business in monitoring his and Tugade’s affairs. He also scolded Goldberg for “rumor-mongering” and giving false information when he made an unverified remark about Tugade’s visit to China.

“Sec. Tugade had a lot of invitations. Any DOTr (Department of Transportation) secretary is invited by China and Japan, automatically. But Sec. Tugade… I heard him a lot of
times saying, ‘I will not go abroad until I form my team. And my priority is forming the DOTr team’,” Cayetano said.

“That’s why he didn’t join the trips until he’s done with his team. And he has his own plan because Sec. Tugade doesn’t want to be supply-driven… He wanted to study first what the country needs,” he added.

The Senator also echoed the remarks of foreign relations personalities whom he talked to and claimed that Goldberg’s action was considered as a breach of protocol, as it was something that “a professional diplomat would not do unless you want to do something with that country.”

“It was a surprise to us because (the U.S. was) angry a few years ago and they put some people in jail and they took U.S. visas (away) from a lot of Filipinos because we were spying on them. So is this an admission now that they are spying on us?” Cayetano asked.

He noted that “one of the problems is the refusal of Goldberg to admit that he is part of the problem,” Cayetano said as he described how the Philippines’ relationship with the U.S., its long-time ally, is significantly being affected by the United States’ interference in the country’s policies and political affairs.

The Senator revealed that during the national elections last May, Goldberg took the time to personally meet the candidates and reported updates to the U.S. government afterwards. But Goldberg was not able to meet with Duterte because the Ambassador apparently kept on changing the schedule.

The Senator also pointed out how Goldberg interfered with the country’s national polls by making a comment about a highly politically charged issue, which could have affected the discretion of the 3.5 million Filipino-American voters in the U.S.

“(Ambassador Goldberg) continued to treat Malacañang as if he can tell the Philippine President what to do… The messenger was part of the problem… He’s interfering with our local politics, with how things are being run here,” he stressed.

Cayetano said he plans to issue a full report regarding the issue at the right time and that he would write a letter to Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay to complain and protest Goldberg’s actions.

Duterte blamed Goldberg for the strained relations with Washington. “Goldberg? He did not know that he started this trouble. He made comments during the campaign period that were not supposed to be made by an ambassador,” noted Duterte.

“I don’t want to insult him. He didn’t know that he started all this trouble,” he added.
Goldberg has ended his stint in Manila, returning to Washington last Octobrr 28. He is expected to be assigned to another country soon.