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De Lima warns GMA’s return to ASEAN limelight firms up pro-Chinese alliance with Duterte: Cayetano should explain Robredo snub

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Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday questioned the role played by former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

“There is a deeper anchorage for this unholy alliance between (President) Duterte and Arroyo, and it all points to China,” she said.

“It appears that in lieu of the duly-elected Vice President Leni Robredo, who was sidelined by the administration from the ASEAN events, the government chose in her stead former Pres. (now Rep.) Arroyo, for reasons only (Foreign Affairs) Sec. (Alan Peter) Cayetano and the protocol officers of the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) could fathom,” De Lima said.

The senator took note of the infrastructure projects entered into during the Arroyo administration marred by charges of corruption such as the NBN-ZTE deal and the Manila-Clark railway fiasco.

“The unholy team-up seems bent on mortgaging the Filipino nation and its future generations to China, for a commission of course, if the past is to be any indication,” she said.

De Lima found questionable Arroyo’s hosting of welcome dinner for ASEAN leaders, a task that was traditionally given to the Vice President.

Malacanang broke the tradition by not inviting Robredoamong the Cabinet officials who would greet and welcome foreign leaders upon their arrival at the airport.

Arroyo hosted a welcome dinner to two Southeast Asian leaders – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi – last Saturday in her hometown province.

ASEAN organizers from Malacanang said the dinner was Arroyo’s own initiative.

She was also given the task of speaking before the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit where she extolled the coming of the China era, with the Chinese government will purportedly lay down its own rules as the new world leader.

Yet De Lima herself provided the answer to her questions noting how the former president has been known to be instrumental in the 2016 electoral victory of Duterte and apparently, in exchange, political conditions were set for the premature dismissal of her plunder indictment by her own Supreme Court appointees.

“The payback does not seem to end anytime soon, as the former president with a checkered record of corruption, plunder and – like Duterte – selling off the country to China in graft-ridden deals and lopsided joint exploration schemes in the Spratlys, continue to figure prominently in this administration, even ushered to take the place of the Vice President in clear violation of diplomatic protocols,” she said.

The Duterte administration is tying up Filipinos to a future of financial indebtedness to China for infrastructure loans while Arroyo drumbeats China’s hegemonic role not only in the Philippines but in the whole world, she noted.

“Loaning our future to China, as avidly endorsed by Duterte and Arroyo is not the way forward. It is the path to national suicide,” the senator said.

The senator urged the public to guard against the resurrection of Arroyo’s “dead China deals”, re-packaged as Duterte’s “build, build, build” projects, if only for the record of plunder and corruption that characterized them during the Arroyo presidency.