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The United States Embassy in Manila yesterday apologized on behalf of US Ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg for the erroneous claims he said that Transportation and Communications Secretary Arthur Tugade, together with Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, traveled to China prior to President Duterte’s recent state visit to Beijing.
“If, in the end, Secretary Tugade did not join Sen. Cayetano’s trip to China, we regret any inconvenience,” said US Embassy Press Attache Molly Koscina.
Goldberg disclosed the trips undertaken by Tugade and Cayetano were all “well organized.”
According to Goldberg, he was not surprised that the Philippines secured an estimated $24 billion in investments and loan pledges after Duterte’s visit to China.
“I don’t think this has been revealed publicly, but I know, that Sen. Cayetano, President Duterte’s running mate, made an unpublicized trip to China in June along with Secretary Tugade,” the top American diplomat said in a televised interview this week. “All of this actually was in train, I think. There were already discussions going on.”
“I don’t think Sen. Cayetano’s role was fully known publicly but he was actually starting this process way back June,” he added.
Tugade has denied he was in China last June.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was not aware of the travels supposedly taken by Tugade and Cayetano to China.
“The DFA has no information on those trips,” Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Charles Jose said in a short statement.
During Duterte’s trip to China, the President was able to secure deals that included at least $5.5 billion for transportation and infrastructure, $1 billion for a hydroelectric power plant, $700 million for a steel plant, and $780 million for a port development project in Davao City that are expected to generate 2.6 million jobs.