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Apr 03rd
Home Columns JGL Eye President Aquino Should Listen to His Critics
President Aquino Should Listen to His Critics PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - JGL Eye
Thursday, 07 July 2011 09:01


JGL Eye Column


(© 2011 Journal Group Link International)


And were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.—Thomas Jefferson, January 1787


C HICAGO (jGLi) – Philippine President Noynoy Aquino should be thick-skinned when it comes to criticisms that have no basis. Such criticisms will not make him vulnerable but invincible.


But if criticisms are based on the truth, he should treat that columnist or critic to a cup of coffee or he should give them a phone call and thank them for bringing the matter to his attention.


The second President Bush even attended the birthday party of a newspaper reporter.


For his part, President Barack Obama defused what would have been a long-drawn out debate on racial profiling when he invited to a “beer summit” a noted black scholar and a white police officer who arrested the scholar at his home near Harvard University two years ago.


I am not sure if President Obama is President Noynoy’s role model. But Mr. Aquino gave it away when he asked Mr. Obama how to quit smoking.  According to President Noynoy, “He (Obama) told me, ‘I kicked the habit, so you are going to have to work on that yourself. I can give you advice (when) you decide to quit.’”


I believe Mr. Obama is going to tell Mr. Aquino: “Get married first and I will ask Michelle to talk to your future wife, who will tell you, how you can quit smoking.”


Michelle Obama told the would-be U.S. president that she would only support his campaign on condition that “he couldn’t be a smoking President.”




As an ex-smoker myself (I kicked the habit 25 years ago while I was a crime reporter for the Manila Bulletin trying to fight the stress under deadline), I thought smoking was cool to girls. But it turned out, my smoking was a turn-off because of the smell of my clothes and my bad breath. But I think the death of the 54-year-old Josephine “Jo” Martinez Ramos, second daughter of former President Fidel Ramos, should send a grim message to the 50-year-old President Aquino that smoking is not only a nasty habit but also deadly.


Last month, President Aquino railed against columnists “for being a hindrance in spreading the good news and accomplishments” of his administration.


Mr. Aquino and his handlers are misreading the role of columnists. They don’t realize that there are things that the columnists can do that Mr. Aquino or his spokesmen cannot. The columnists can criticize the KKKKK's (kamag-anakan, kaklase, kabarilan, kapartido o kapamilya). But Mr. Aquino cannot.


When columnists raise valid criticisms against his KKKKK’s, Mr. Aquino can use the arguments of the columnists to distance himself from the KKKKK’s or fire the KKKKK’s. Aren’t critics heaven-sent?




Recently, Mr. Aquino was publicly complaining that he has three members of his kapamilya (members of his official Cabinet), who are always giving him headaches because “they are always bearers of bad news.”


For me, Mr. Aquino has no right to complain against his appointees because he was the one responsible for vetting them before appointing them. If he was given false information by his appointees, by all means, he can always fire them at will. But if his appointees are giving him truthful information, he should even promote them.


But in the case of newbies in the post, like Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., new appointees should be given the benefit of a honeymoon period while they are undergoing baptism of fire.


In fact, I was not planning to ask Mr. Cuisia any question until I learned that Mr. Cuisia had a meeting with his fellow Chinese Ambassador to Washington a week after he escorted around his boss, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, who sought the help of Secretary of U.S. State Department Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to stop China from bullying the Philippines over Spratlys islands.


But Mr. Cuisia’s foreign career service spokesman (the Philippine government does not hire a press attaché with professional media background so it can save money) Consul Emil Fernandez said Mr. Cuisia did not discuss the Spratlys issues with the Chinese Ambassador.




He said Ambassador Cuisia was merely paying courtesy calls on other Ambassadors. If Mr. Cuisia met with the Chinese Ambassador, Mr. Fernandez said, they only discussed “China-U.S. economic relations, the state of the Philippine and Chinese economies, and recent developments in the U.S. In particular, Ambassador Cuisia informed the Chinese Ambassador of developments in the Philippines under the administration of President Aquino, including the government’s Public Private Partnership programs.”


Obviously, it would not be within Ambassador Cuisia’s league to discuss “The Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) by the Philippines, China and Vietnam in the Spratly Islands in 2005-2008,” which Malacañang described as having given “China an open window to claim the Reed Bank and other parts of Philippine territory.”


There are numerous bilateral and international agreements that President Aquino will discover that compromised the Philippine government and the Filipino people aside from JMSU that would have been discovered had former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo consulted the Philippine Congress so that issues would get public airings and nobody will be blamed.


Mrs. Arroyo never realized it that when she signed agreements binding the Philippine government beyond the term of her office, there was a need to seek the input of the Philippine Congress, who will be dealing with the fiasco long after she was gone from office.


For instance, the Visiting Forces Agreement, which is reviewed by the Philippine Senate, is only considered an executive agreement, not a treaty, because it is not being reviewed by the U.S. Senate. It’s about time President Aquino and Philippine Congress demand that VFA should be ratified by the U.S. Senate as well.


So, when President Aquino travels to China, he should tell the Chinese government that because agreements signed by former President Arroyo were not reviewed by Philippine Congress, Mr. Aquino has the right to review all the agreements and terminate all them if warranted and they go on a fresh start. # # #


Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at: (


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