‘Di si Erap ‘yan! Jinggoy dares China: Name exec who OK’d removal of BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin

(POLITIKO) Senator Jinggoy Estrada has dared China to name the Philippine government official who allegedly promised to remove the grounded military ship BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal.

Estrada issued the challenge as he denied that his father, former President Joseph Estrada, had a gentleman’s agreement with China to remove the rusting vessel during his administration.

“Name names. We are also at loss. We are in limbo sino talaga nangako,” the senator said Monday (August 14).

Estrada said it was “illogical” for his father to agree to the ship’s removal when it was his decision to ground the ship there in 1999 to serve as the country’s military outpost in the shoal and assert its sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea.

“The Chinese government made the press release that (the agreement) was made verbally. This will not stand. These are all hearsay,” he said.

It was former Cabinet Secretary Rigoberto Tiglao Jr. who claimed in his August 14 column that Estrada promised to remove BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal.

Estrada said he talked to Orly Mercado, who served as his father’s defense secretary, who denied any promise made to the Chinese government.

“Any assertion of such a commitment contradicts the rationale behind the government’s decision at that time to station BRP Sierra Madre at the shoal,” he said in a separate statement.

Estrada lauded President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for his promise not to tow away the grounded ship as requested by China, and to “rescind” any such agreement with China, if there was any.

“This renders the debate about a possible promise made during former President Joseph Estrada’s tenure to the Chinese government irrelevant,” he added.