The former Philamlife boss said that only he, as then Philippine ambassador to the United States, then Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario who ordered the withdrawal of the country’s warship, BRP Gregorio del Pilar.
Cuisia was responding to President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that it was Del Rosario who should take the entire blame for abandoning Panatag to China because he,based on the President’s source, gave the withdrawal order without getting permission from Aquino.
In an interview with DZBB radio, Cuisia said he gave the order to withdraw after consulting with then United States Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell who made him believe that China had also agreed to withdraw simultaneously from the disputed shoal.
“The US’ suggestion was for us to withdraw, but I told them I cannot make that recommendation. What I recommended was simultaneous withdrawal. Kinausap ng US iyong Chinese ambassador, pumayag ang China…We set a time and date of such withdrawal. On June 15, we withdrew. Two hours later, then-Foreign Affairs Secretary del Rosario called me saying China did not withdraw as reported by our Philippine Navy. That is the problem. China did not withdraw,” Cuisia said.
After realizing that China had no intention of withdrawing, Cuisia admitted it was too late to order the Philipine warship’s return to the disputed shoal. But Cuisia was adamant that he and del Rosario were blameless for what Duterte called a diplomatic faux pas.
“Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit ang Pangulo natin ang sumisisi kay Secretary Albert del Rosario na nawala daw sa atin ang teritoryo. Bakit hindi niya sinisisi ang mga Intsik na niloko tayo,” he said.