MANILA, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday he is eyeing former Interior and Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan as special envoy to China in the event that former president Fidel Ramos turns down his earlier offer to head the team that will kickstart bilateral talks with Beijing.
"If President Ramos tells me that he is not available then I'll appoint Alunan. He's good. He is a colonel in the reserved force. He knows his business," Duterte said in a speech before Army troops in Maguindanao Province in the southern Philippines.
Alunan served as interior secretary under Ramos. He ran for senator last May but lost.
On July 14, Duterte bared his plan to send Ramos to Beijing. However Ramos has allegedly expressed reluctance to accept the role citing health reasons and possible conflict of schedules.
The Philippine new government under Duterte has expressed its willingness to mend relations between the Philippines and China, which have been strained over disputes in the South China Sea in recent years. Enditem