Tiglao stands by Sierra Madre claim; Jinggoy suggests Senate appearance

(GMA NEWS) Senator Jinggoy Estrada floated the idea of summoning former Palace official Rigoberto Tiglao to the Senate to “shed light” on his claim that the senator’s father, then-President Joseph Estrada, promised to remove the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal in 1999.

In his Manila Times column on Wednesday, Tiglao said he had enough evidence to prove his claim.

“I don’t think Jinggoy even read my article (or any newspaper, for that matter). I presented official documents from then Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and other DFA officials referring to such promises,” Tiglao wrote, according to Raffy Tima’s report on “24 Oras.”

Tiglao added that the Estrada administration had committed to remove two Philippine vessels, and that only the BRP Benguet, stationed at Scarborough Shoal, was removed.

Senator Estrada suggested that Tiglao appear before the Senate to clear the issue.

“Puwedeng ipatawag si Mr. Tiglao. Para to shed light on what he said,” he said.

GMA Integrated News has reached out to Tiglao for comment.

On August 5, China Coast Guard ships, accompanied by other Chinese militia vessels, performed “dangerous maneuvers” against four Philippine vessels on their way to Ayungin Shoal to resupply the servicemen stationed at the Sierra Madre.

China then alleged that the Philippines had promised to remove the Sierra Madre from the shoal, which is claims as its own and calls Ren’ai Reef.

On Monday, Tiglao said that the elder Estrada made the promise to remove the Sierra Madre in 1999, the same year the rusting Navy ship was installed at Ayungin Shoal with his approval.

Tiglao served as Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s spokesperson in Malacañang after she succeeded Estrada in 2001, and was later appointed ambassador.

In response, Jinggoy said his father “cannot remember” the issue anymore, but that it would have been “illogical” for him to make the promise.

The senator also said former senator Orlando “Orly” Mercado “confirmed that there was no agreement or promise to the Chinese government.”

Mercado, who served as Estrada’s defense secretary, earlier stated that no such promise was made by the Estrada administration.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. also said he is not aware of any such agreement, but that if one exists, he is now rescinding it. — Sherylin Untalan/BM, GMA Integrated News