POSTSCRIPT / September 21, 2010 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Noynoy more worried about what Beijing says

INTIMIDATED: I don’t like it that my President has been so scared by a Hong Kong regional executive that he now tiptoes when the Chinese make noise about not being happy with the way things go in this country.

We are a small country anxious to remain friends with our neighbors, but there are such basic things as sovereignty and national pride.

It is bad form for President Noynoy Aquino to wrap up an investigation report on a domestic incident — the Aug. 23 hostage-taking fiasco at the Luneta — and send it to Beijing even before his own Filipino constituents have had a glance at it.

One is set wondering if the investigation and review conducted by a team led by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was made to order, like siopao, primarily to please the Chinese.

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HUMILIATION: President Aquino was elected by Filipinos. He is running this country for them.

If foreigners do not like the violence that sometimes erupts around here, as it does in China and elsewhere in the world, they are free to stay away.

We welcome visitors, even the obnoxious types, and we are in fact hospitable to a fault.

We do not want anything untoward happening to our guests, but when things go wrong as they sometimes do, we hope they will understand that some elements are beyond our control.

It was normal for Chinese to bemoan the killing of their compatriots from Hong Kong in the Aug. 23 hostage incident. There was universal disapproval of the utter incompetence of the officials, including the police, who handled the situation.

But there is a limit to our humiliating ourselves.

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WE’RE SORRY: In his own way, President Aquino already said sorry to the Chinese and promised (not to them but to everybody) that the government would do better in similar situations in the future.

He did not have to outdo himself by sending the first copy of the 83-page De Lima report to Beijing as if asking if they are happy with it and if it was okay to release it  na to Filipinos.

Such a sequential release raises wild thoughts, including suspicion that Malacañang may have in mind rewriting it to please the Chinese, depending on their reaction to the first edition.

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THEY’RE NOT SORRY: Masyado na tayong kinakawawa.

When the Chinese used shredded cardboard as extender for their siopao, when they mixed melamine in their baby milk and pet food, when they put cat meat into their noodle soup, when they violated international copyright with impunity, when a Chinese attacked and killed Filipino tourists in Beijing – among other notable examples of criminal and life-threatening acts – did Beijing say sorry to Filipinos and their other victims?

No they did not. And we did not demand an apology, much less reparation and the punishment of the guilty. We knew how to keep our distance.

Beijing did not send us, the victims, the first copy of their investigation reports. Neither did any of our officials think it necessary or proper to demand an apology the way Beijing did after the Luneta incident.

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FACILITATOR?: This groveling posture, possibly a symptom of diplomatic osteoporosis, is not an isolated case.

In the upcoming negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and representatives of the Philippine government, Malacañang – apparently without much thought — has taken the same stance.

The problem in Muslim Mindanao, which is a domestic affair, should not be internationalized. We Filipinos should solve it among ourselves.

We should not be naïve when availing ourselves of the “good offices” of meddlesome neighbors. How come Malacañang is allowing Malaysia – which dreams of seeing our Mindanao going to pieces – acting as a facilitator?

Will somebody please tell the new tenant in the Palace that Kuala Lumpur is not a neutral third-party?

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WHY THE MILF?: Like the panel that goes on seasonal junkets to the Netherlands for the never-ending “peace talks” with the communist National Democratic Front, there is the other tour group already packing its bags for the talks with the MILF in Kuala Lumpur.

In the first place, why are we talking to the MILF? Can this armed band produce a letter of credence, a formal document, showing that it is the true and designated voice of the Muslim population in the South?

There are democratically elected people’s representatives in Muslim Mindanao, so why do we prefer to talk with a band whose credentials come from the barrel of a gun and the endorsement of a foreign power?

Even the Organization of Islamic Conference does not recognize the MILF but the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) as the designated observer from the Philippines in the OIC. The MILF is just a splinter of the older MNLF.

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U.S. HAND: I wonder if Mindanao will crop up in the coming meeting of US President Barack Obama and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including President Aquino. If so, what will our President say?

How will President Aquino respond if Mr. Obama reiterates the US line that it is best for Manila to talk with the MILF, which Washington has reportedly coopted and assessed as easier to manipulate.

If our President is being advised by the same characters who are indifferent to the possible Balkanization of the South and the government’s continuing to talk only to the MILF in the presence of Malaysian “facilitators,” may Bathala save the Philippines.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 21, 2010)

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