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The puerile P-Noy

The puerile P-Noy
Ronald Roy — 2012 September 26
If it hasn’t happened yet, our country is now held hostage by the People’s Republic of China—thanks to Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s mishandling of his exclusive prerogative to authorize backdoor negotiations in pursuit of a peaceful resolution of ongoing territorial disputes between the two countries.
P-Noy failed to do what he should have done. Right after Sen. Antonio Trillanes told him China had chosen him to back-channel between the two countries, he should have immediately informed DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario that he would tap Trillanes as an informal negotiator to backstop the official position which the secretary had faithfully followed, as adopted by the president.
This way, we would not now have to deal with such an internationally embarrassing imbroglio involving no less than the senate president, the foreign affairs secretary and a senator calling one another traitor. [Trillanes had called del Rosario a traitor, and Enrile had called Trillanes a traitor, although there were really no traitors in the premises, but only passion and obfuscation which have no place in diplomacy, much less in matters related to national security.] As a result, P-Noy has opened the door for China to blackmail him, e.g.:
“Mr. President, you have bungled your role in foreign relations in a way that jeopardizes your people’s national interests in general, and their security concerns in particular. They can therefore hold you accountable for impeachable behavior. How would you now react from a weakened position if we told the world that your Sen. Trillanes, acting on your behalf, had been forging secret business deals with us on oil, fishes, corals and other marine resources of great value to your country? You’d surely get impeached, right? You’re now under our gun, sir, and you know it. So then listen, here’s the deal… etc.”
Another way is for China to belie Trillanes’ allegation that they chose him for the role of backdoor negotiator, i.e., that it was he who had in fact presented himself. And, excuse me, texter #8057, that exchange of messages of peace between Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinpin at the recent trade fair at Nanning City, which he attended as P-Noy’s special envoy, merely showcased diplomatic niceties, and in no wise indicated a masterstroke of a diplomatic solution to China’s bullying tactics and bête noire posturing. They might have even dined him with the finest Mao Tai wine, moon cakes, lohanchay and Peking Duck, but the fundamental tremors would still linger.
It is sad that our impetuous president has proven to be a foreign relations neophyte by entrusting to someone like Trillanes, himself another tyro in the art of diplomacy, the sensitive assignment of back-channeling. If P-Noy had only first “backgrounded” Trillanes, he would probably have discovered that the latter was of doubtful fitness for the role. Trillanes is an essentially feisty and tactless person.
Worst of all, it is unfortunate that our president does not appear to fully understand his role as the country’s chief architect of foreign policy. He should not be blamed for this; although we may blame fate that catapulted him to the presidency through the demise of his beloved mother and that of Iglesia Ni Cristo head Ka Erdie Manalo. Prayers we need that a novice of a president does not lead us to a crushing war in the ASEAN region—an eventuality suggested by Trillanes when he reportedly intimated to the Chinese that we did not have the capability to defend our coastal waters.
At this point, the topic of foreign relations constrains me to digress by recalling some interaction that transpired in 1969 between Sen. Ninoy Aquino and myself, then the Head of Staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Pending then for the senate’s consideration was a House bill that urged diplomatic relations with socialist and communist countries. Thus, my staff’s recommendatory report was first in the order of process.
It did not surprise me that Ninoy, whom I liked as a friend despite his links with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), would incessantly goad me to speed up my work with a favorable recommendation.
Eventually, I told him this: “Pare, confidential ito, just between you and me. I have not yet started to write the report, but already I have no choice but to kill the (Rep.) Enverga Bill. After three weeks of public hearings, by now you must know that our citizens overwhelmingly reject the idea of ties, of whatever sort, with the Reds. Besides, I have it on high authority that Pres. Marcos will veto it anyway if it passes.”
At this point, Ninoy gently banged my desk with a clenched fist, whispering, “P_ _ _ng ina! Sino ba siya!? Congress is the highest policy-making body, not him!” Then he stared agape when I retorted, “That’s a misconception, Ninoy. As a general rule, that’s correct: but in foreign relations, the president is the chief architect of foreign policy.”
The following day, I received two death threats, which would persist in the succeeding weeks. But this did not deter me from finalizing my staff’s voluminous report that recommended that “the Enverga Bill, premises considered, be left un-passed.” The recommendation which was adopted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was a temporary blow to the insidious Maoist movement in the country.
In two years, the commies’ escalating subversive activities would peak to see the bombing of the residence of an anti-communist fighter, Danding Cojuangco, and that of Jose J. Roy, the President of the Anti-Communist League of the Philippines. Who said that the CPP and Ninoy did not co-opt each other?
At this point, it appears that P-Noy has a poorer grasp of foreign relations than his father forty years ago. P-Noy’s ken of sound foreign relations does not compare with his father’s, which was however lethally unpatriotic in his mutually co-optive partnership with the CPP. For the moment, P-Noy should realize that he has three big problems, namely, Trillanes, Enrile, and himself.
But first, let me say that DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario is not an American stooge. He is a decent person and a consummate diplomat whose record speaks for itself. I’ve known this kumpadre of mine for close to half a century and I just cannot see him in any other light.
On the other hand, Trillanes, whom I met when he thanked me for my article titled “Vox Dei: Free Trillanes”, although sincere and generally soft-spoken as well, is a victim of his own impulsive and brutally frank nature. We hailed him as a Magdalo hero when he defied a malevolent commander-in-chief, Gloria Arroyo; but it is this same feisty character that ironically puts him now in political limbo for disrespecting no less than the senate president, who is almost twice his age. Hmmm…. What happened to his PMA upbringing?
I think Enrile will oblige if P-Noy requests him to control his temper against Trillanes. After all, he needs his son to win convincingly as a senatorial candidate. But can P-Noy control his own immature bent for financing propaganda to eternalize the dark side of marital law? What about the good side?
Mr. President, you may yet turn out to be your biggest enemy if you don’t leave it to historians to make a balanced appraisal of Marcos’ military rule forty years ago—the very same historians who may dub you “the puerile P-Noy”.
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