FVR quits as special envoy

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star
FVR quits as special envoy
Former president Fidel Ramos said he still considers himself part of the Duterte team “whether they like it or not.”
STAR / File Photo

MANILA, Philippines - Saying his job of breaking the ice with Beijing was done, former president Fidel Ramos announced yesterday his resignation as special envoy to China.

Ramos, whom President Duterte had credited for persuading him to seek the nation’s highest post, did not say exactly when he officially tendered his resignation. 

Ramos’ announcement came amid his scathing criticisms of the President’s pronouncements and priorities, including the bloody war on drugs, the “separation” from the United States as well as Duterte’s refusal to have the Paris Agreement on climate change ratified.

“The moment the President came back from China from a successful state visit, I resigned as special envoy to China because the officials have taken over and I’ve done my job to break the ice and to help restore the ties of goodwill and friendship,” Ramos told GMA-7 during an event at the Thailand embassy.

Duterte returned from his China state visit last Oct. 21.

Malacañang was unaware of Ramos’ resignation.

“We have not received PFVR’s resignation,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said, using Ramos’ presidential initials.

“Moreover, it is not true that the former president can no longer have any role in our engagement with China,” Andanar said. “His stature and expertise are needed now more than ever, to follow up and build on what President Duterte accomplished during his recent visit to China.”

Since assuming office on June 30, Duterte had repeatedly thanked the 88-year-old Ramos for convincing him to run for president, and subsequently appointed him as special envoy to China.

Ramos informally met with his contacts in the Chinese government in Hong Kong and in Manila on separate occasions a few months ago, but no details were bared to the public.

When asked about his recent stinging criticisms of Duterte, Ramos said he must be considered “an older brother of the big, big, big Filipino family because of my long service in government, my numerous years of life and also call it humble experience in government service.”

“I must be considered by everybody, including the present President, as an older brother of the family who once in a while must give advice, unsolicited,” Ramos said.

“It is a take-it-or-leave-it sort of thing. Because that is the way extended Filipino family is. Whenever there are problems in the family –father, mother, children, grandchildren, grandfather, grandmother are gathered together and consulted,” he said.

He said those who wish the country to attain peace, sustainable development, progress and “a place of respect and even admiration in the family of nations must get together and look for the best solutions to the problems.”

Ramos said he still considers himself part of the Duterte team “whether they like it or not.”

Sources close to Ramos said the former leader might have been slighted by some officials’ reportedly asking him to stay on the sidelines in dealing with China days before Duterte was to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

The same sources said Ramos was set to leave for China ahead of Duterte but local diplomats apparently asked him to stand down.

Shortly before Duterte was to observe his first 100 days in office, Ramos described his governance as a “letdown,” with solving poverty taking a backseat to the anti-drug campaign.

Respecting FVR’s wisdom

Malacañang respects the wisdom of Ramos, who called the attention of President Duterte anew, this time on the need for the administration to push for Senate concurrence of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

“We appreciate former president Fidel Ramos’ advice. We will be guided by the wisdom of the former president,” Andanar said.

In his previous speeches, Duterte said he would not honor the Paris agreement because the Philippines should be allowed to develop on its own terms and not dictated by carbon limits set by other countries.

The Philippines, he added, is not ready to comply with the pact as it builds more power plants to fuel the country’s growth.

In his latest column, Ramos said Duterte is “unwittingly shooting himself” and the entire Filipino population “in the mouth” because of his refusal to ratify the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

In his previous columns, Ramos also hit Duterte for his lack of statesmanship in uttering cuss words against his critics, the United States, European Union and United Nations.

“He (Duterte) may claim that to be more ‘insulting than friendly’ to our long-established allies is part of his God-given ‘destiny.’ But, this is obviously wrong, and full of S….T !!!.” Ramos said.

Ramos then wondered if Duterte’s refusal to ratify the climate change agreement means he is allowing his countrymen to continue suffering from the devastating effects of typhoons, which batter the country several times a year.

Ramos also said that while former president Benigno Aquino III vowed to cut the Philippines’ carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030, Duterte has yet to join the roster of world leaders who have ratified the climate change agreement.

But Andanar said Ramos “agreed in principle” with Duterte’s position.

“It is only in the approach or method the two leaders differ on the issue of climate change. Each has his own style and we have to learn to respect the difference,” he said.

Andanar cited the part of Ramos’ latest column where the former president wrote that “President (Duterte) maybe is correct in saying that developed countries who are responsible for the majority of historical emissions should carry the larger burden of limiting emissions and that developing countries, such as the Philippines, who contributed little to historical emissions, should be allowed to continue to grow their economies, especially if such is done in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.”

Andanar refused to comment further.

The Philippines signed the agreement last April 21 but a change in government last June set back the approval process by several months.

The Climate Change Commission (CCC) is supposed to secure the certificates of concurrence of at least nine concerned agencies before forwarding them to the Office of the President for ratification.

A few agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, have sent their certificates to the CCC.

Once the Office of the President ratifies the pact, it will submit this to the Senate for concurrence.

Sen. Loren Legarda expects the Duterte administration to ratify soon the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Legarda issued the statement yesterday, days before the landmark pact enters into force on Nov. 4 with many developing and industrialized nations yet to ratify the agreement that seeks to combat climate change through reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases.

On Nov. 7, there will be the Climate Conference in Marrakech, Morocco where parties to the agreement, or countries that have ratified the agreement, will meet for the first time.

The Philippines and other countries that have not yet ratified the pact will be joining only as observers.

Legarda said Nov. 4 is not a deadline for the ratification but stressed it would be in the country’s best interest to approve it soonest.

“There is no conflict at all between sustainable development and economic growth, and the ratification of the Paris Agreement,” Legarda said in a telephone interview.

Legarda said several Cabinet officials, including Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, have personally assured her the ratification is forthcoming despite Duterte’s statements that he would not honor the Paris agreement.

“I suggest that the CCC gather all the certificates of concurrence as quickly as possible,” she said.

She said the US and China – two of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases – have ratified the agreement so they should serve as an inspiration to other nations to do the same.

Legarda pointed out once the Philippines ratifies the pact, it will be able to tap hundreds of millions of dollars in technical and financial assistance from developed countries for climate change mitigation and adaptation projects.

“We have much to gain and nothing to lose in ratifying the agreement,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is supporting any initiative that would address reduction of the country’s greenhouse emissions.

DENR Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Marlo Mendoza said the agency’s position is that it is one with other countries in taking action against climate change and is willing to participate in any international negotiation concerning the matter.

But Mendoza said as to ways on how to achieve it, there could be differences between countries and that further discussions would have to be made on how to go about it.

“I believe that the environment secretary (Gina Lopez) is willing to meet the President to discuss the climate change issue,” Mendoza said.

He advised reporters to wait for the result of the meeting. – With Christina Mendez, Paolo Romero, Rhodina Villanueva


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