Philippines' Ramos quits as envoy to China

Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos reacts as he speaks to journalists during a trip to Hong Kong, China, after a Hague court's ruling over the maritime dispute in South China Sea on Aug 12, 2016.
Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos reacts as he speaks to journalists during a trip to Hong Kong, China, after a Hague court's ruling over the maritime dispute in South China Sea on Aug 12, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA • The Philippines' for- mer president Fidel Ramos has quit his job as special envoy to China, aides have said, but the government has yet to act on his resignation, two weeks after the current Philippine leader visited Beijing.

President Rodrigo Duterte named Mr Ramos, a mentor who he said persuaded him to run for office, as special envoy to China to help repair ties soured by an international arbitration case in a maritime territorial dispute which went in Manila's favour in July, sparking outrage in Beijing.

Mr Ramos' decision to quit a job he had barely started was due to the progress made during Mr Duterte's China visit, including what appears to be an end to China's blockade of a disputed fishing zone, said his aides.

"He has done his job," one of them said yesterday.

"President Duterte has visited Beijing and our fishermen are back in the disputed Scarborough Shoal. He has accomplished his mission."

The aide declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media. Mr Ramos' office said an official statement would soon follow.

Mr Ramos, 88, is a supporter of Mr Duterte but has recently turned critical of the maverick leader, calling the latter's first 100 days in office a "huge disappointment and let-down".

As his first step towards softening ties with China, Mr Ramos spent five days in Hong Kong in August meeting "old friends". The two countries previously had no high-level contact for five years.

Mr Ramos never made it to China, however. A few weeks later, Mr Duterte went to Beijing himself, accompanied by about 200 businessmen.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2016, with the headline 'Philippines' Ramos quits as envoy to China'. Print Edition | Subscribe