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Ramos weighing offer?

A Malacañang official said that the government will explore other diplomatic channels to finally put to rest the country’s dispute with Beijing if former President Fidel V. Ramos turns down an offer for him to be the country’s special envoy to China.

In a press briefing yesterday, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Ramos did not categorically decline President Duterte’s offer for him to initiate diplomatic talks with China after the landmark decision issued by the United Nations arbitral tribunal favoring Manila’s claims against Beijing’s.

Instead, Abella said that the former President has expressed concern that he may be too old for that. “Former President FVR did not decline but he did make a comment saying that he may be too old for a long time commitment. And I think he said it in passing,” according to Abella.

But if indeed Ramos has turned down the offer, Abella said, “There are other ways of doing it – diplomatic channels.”

Abella said they have no idea why Duterte chose Ramos. “We do not know the rationale behind it,” Abella said, but added that Ramos is obviously a wise statesman so it makes sense that the President referred to him as the man who can do the job of repairing strained ties between Manila and Beijing.

Duterte made the offer to the former President during the San Beda Law Alumni Association testimonial dinner for him as the first Bedan President of the Philippines at the Club Filipino in San Juan City Thursday.

“War is not an option. So what’s the other side? Peaceful talks. I cannot give you the wherewithal now. I want to consult many people including President Ramos,” Duterte said. (Elena L. Aben)