BY REY O. ARCILLA
‘An indispensable adjunct to his “tuwid na daan” advocacy is “transparency”. Without it, the slogan is meaningless.’
SHE was frothing in the mouth like a rabid canine, barking venomous sounds at a hapless citizen whose only sin was sending to the impeachment court anonymously received documents which he thought, rightly or wrongly, were relevant and useful to the ongoing trial of the “midnight” chief justice.
I dread to think of how the “honorable” Miriam Santiago will behave in the International Criminal Court (ICC) once confronted with persons accused of war crimes, mass murder, genocide and other heinous crimes. The Senate’s loss, ICC’s gain? Maybe.
At last, we may have a president who has the balls to tell the Americans off – albeit indirectly.
Not too long ago, President Aquino expressed his wish to have a squadron of jet fighters for the air force after he saw some of them on the tarmac of an Indonesian airfield.
Subsequently, he announced his intention to ask the US for such a squadron. His foreign and defense secretaries who went to Washington last month to meet with their counterparts were supposed to follow that up.
They came home empty-handed.
Last week, Noynoy announced that we have the money to buy two squadrons of new jet fighters – but not from the Americans. He said why buy second-hand ones whose life span will only be two years if also used for training. We can get new ones for a little more, but will last 21 years.
Noynoy said the aircraft “are manufactured by another progressive country that I won’t name at this point.”
The government also announced last week that it will be buying ten fast patrol boats from Japan shortly.
With these developments, I wonder why Noynoy is still pushing through with his visit to Washington next month.
An indispensable adjunct to his “tuwid na daan” advocacy is “transparency”. Without it, the slogan is meaningless.
Earlier, when it was announced that Noynoy will be visiting Washington sometime this month, the US State Department made it plain that the visit will not materialize if it would only be for a photo-op. President Barack Hussein Obama will be too busy for that sort of thing alone. Something substantive must have been agreed upon.
After his foreign and defense secretaries came home empty-handed last month, I assumed that Noynoy’s planned visit will be called off. “Substantive” must mean both ways.
So why is Noynoy going to Washington? To formalize some agreement already reached between the two sides on the question of US’ sale of another WW II vintage coast guard cutter to us and the reported $30 million (“insulting”, according to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile) additional military aid next year?
In exchange for what? An “expanded” presence or “light footprint” in the country of the US military to “maximize” relations between the two countries?
It is incumbent upon Noynoy to apprise his bosses, the people, what those arrangements are. Has there been any agreement to “rotate” more US troops here? More visits of US warships and military aircraft to our ports and airfields? (The recent visits of a US warship in Cebu and a nuclear submarine in Subic seem to point to a “fait accompli” agreement.)
The question uppermost in the mind of our people is what are we getting in return for these favors to the US, specifically in terms of dollars and cents?
I reiterate we should get $3 billion annually, about the same amount given each to Israel, Egypt and Pakistan. We are no less important to the US than any of these countries, especially with the emergence of China as the most dominant state in this now “pivot” region for the US.
The other question is what has happened to the review of the Visiting Forces Agreement that Foreign Secretary Albert “Amboy” del Rosario was boasting about?
No, Mr. President, if you are going to Washington with a begging bowl, please don’t go at all. You don’t gain the respect of the Americans, and the world, that way. Insist on getting value for what we have to offer them in promoting their own national interest. Three billion dollars, with no strings attached. Take it or leave it. Do not be swayed by your “Amboy” of a foreign secretary who appears to be wimpy towards, if not downright awed, by the US. He also sometimes acts as though he is the US spokesman here. He should leave that job to the US envoy who has been uncharacteristically very quiet and scarce lately.
If memory serves, DFA’s Del Rosario announced for the third time last week the “final” closure of ten embassies and consulates general to make the country’s foreign service “smarter, meaner and leaner”.
He added that the move was necessary “so that we can allocate limited resources to areas of (sic) greater need”.
Fine, except that OFWs (one of the three pillars of our foreign policy, the other two being security and economic diplomacy, remember?) in at least three or four of those posts to be closed have been clamoring for the government to keep them open. Moreover, I have been receiving complaints from insiders that several personnel “freed”: from the establishments to be closed are now allegedly being assigned to posts that actually do not need them. Cited were posts located in Europe and the US. Posts in the Middle East where the need for them is greater are allegedly not getting their share.
With the kind of people running his administration unit, headed by his favorite future ex-undersecretary and “UN-candidatures campaigner” Rafael Seguis whose latest “exploit” was the embarrassing defeat of former justice Florentino Feliciano for a seat in the International Court of Justice, Del Rosario would do well to look into these complaints. Seguis’ senior special assistant Rowena Sanchez has also been cited in this and other complaints.
After Noynoy finally withdrew his nominee for envoy to China, Domingo Lee, I said looking for someone else more qualified will be a tough call. I was right, it seems.
First, he apparently rejected Del Rosario’s recommendee from the career corps whom the latter described as “gifted” but whose work experience thus far has reportedly been limited to American affairs.
Then he decided to appoint a couple of special envoys to China. One is, yes, Domingo Lee and the other, Cesar Zalamea. The first is supposed to look after tourism, arts and culture. The second, to lure Chinese investments into the country.
I suppose it’s the next best thing to do, pending the appointment of a full time ambassador in Beijing. China, for her part, welcomed the appointments, giving me reason to believe that there are behind-the-scenes moves to resolve the present impasse on the Scarborough Shoal issue.
Reminders (for Noynoy’s action):
1) Filing of charges against officials of the National Food Administration during Arroyo’s illegitimate regime. Noynoy himself said on several occasions that there is documentary evidence to prove the venalities in the past in that agency; 2) investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia; 3) facilitating the investigation of rampant corruption in the military and police establishments; and 4) expeditious action by the AFP on the case of Jonas Burgos.
Today is the 24th day of the sixth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.
From an internet friend:
Bob, a 65-year-old, extremely wealthy widower, shows up at the Country Club with a breathtakingly beautiful and very sexy 25-year-old blonde woman who knocks everyone’s socks off with her youthful sex appeal and charm and who hangs over Bob’s arm and listens intently to his every word. His buddies at the club are all aghast. At the very first chance, they corner him and ask, “Bob, how’d you get the trophy girlfriend?”
Bob replies, “Girlfriend? She’s my wife!”
They are knocked over, but continued to ask, “So, how’d you persuade her to marry you?”
“I lied about my age,” Bob replies.
“You didn’t tell her you were only 50-something, did you?”
Bob smiles and says, “No, I told her I was 90.”