MANILA – With hopes to “rekindle” ties between the Philippines and China, former President Fidel V. Ramos is slated to fly to Hong Kong Monday at 2:35 p.m. to begin his task as special Philippine envoy to China.
Ramos said that he will not be going to Hong Kong to negotiate with Chinese officials on the maritime territorial dispute but rather engage in friendly relations and “play golf” with them.
“Please do not make any mistake. I am not going there to negotiate. That belongs to the officials,” Ramos told media in a press conference at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 before his departure.
Ramos said that he had no authority to negotiate but expected that the formal phase of bilateral talks will take place “in the near future” between Philippine and Chinese officials.
The former President also stressed that President Rodrigo Duterte did not give him any formal instructions.
“He (Duterte) is busy giving instructions to everybody so he had a short time for us but considers it very important.”
“What he really said (to me) was to ‘please renew our friendship with your friends from China’,” he added.
Ramos, who finished his presidential term in 1996, said that he was merely happy to help Pres. Duterte who appointed him as special envoy.
“I am just the icebreaker to warm up again, our good, friendly, neighborly relations with China and that’s all I have to do. Maybe that’s all I can do,” Ramos said.
Ramos meanwhile said that he will be bringing books as gifts to his Chinese friends who he did not name.
Ramos will be accompanied by former First Lady Amelita “Ming” Ramos, former Interior and Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan III, veteran journalist Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana and Ramos’ grandson, Sam Jones, who serves as trustee of the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation.
The 88-year-old former president said that despite having a pacemaker attached since October 2015, he is still in good health and can still play a full round of golf.
He will stay in Hong Kong for five days and will be flying via Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight PR 306.