Malacañang on Saturday said the Aquino administration’s foreign policy is not a failure amid criticisms on how President Aquino handled the Sabah issue.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said President Aquino has always prioritized the benefit of the Filipinos living and working abroad whenever there is a crisis in a particular country.
“Of course we don’t agree na meron tayong kabiguang ayusin ang ating sarili sa larangan ng foreign policy [Of course we don’t agree that we have failed to do well in terms of foreign policy],” Valte said.
“Ang laging inuuna ng Pangulong Aquino [What the President prioritizes] when it comes to our foreign policy is our national interest,” she said.
Critics have said that President Aquino has failed in handling the Sabah standoff.
Valte meanwhile said the Kirams should clarify their position after reports revealed that the Kirams disowned the eight individuals accused by Malaysia as terrorists.
The Kirams had said the eight accused were Malaysians and not Filipino citizens.
Valte said it is confusing because the Kirams had earlier been defending the eight individuals who were accused.
“They are saying a different tune,” Valte said. “We don’t know what necessitated the change in their position.”
The Palace official however said that the government prioritizes providing assistance to Filipinos in Sabah.
“We were granted access to the eight (individuals)… we will be taking the necessary steps to extend the assistance that is needed,” Valte said.
She said initial reports from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the eight accused were Filipinos.
“We have not heard any contrary reports from our side so we will proceed on that initial report and we will proceed to provide the assistance,” Valte said.