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Nov 12th
Home Columns Unsolicited Advice The Obama-Arroyo Hide-and-Seek Game: How PGMA Embarrassed RP Again
The Obama-Arroyo Hide-and-Seek Game: How PGMA Embarrassed RP Again PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Unsolicited Advice
Saturday, 28 June 2008 12:44


Veteran observers of the Arroyo Dispensation, especially members of the Filipino Fourth Estate and the Filipino-American press, do not find amusing the latest misadventure of the Philippine President, especially since it happened in the United States. She tried to seek an audience with Sen. Barack H. Obama, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee.


The Philippine President, her entourage and advisers apparently did a hide-and-seek game with Senator Obama, his Senate office and campaign staff. As the Philippine Daily Inquirer aptly put it, “Thus, the President of the Philippines ended up looking like the pesky little fly that needed to be thrown sweet nothings just so she would get out of the way of somebody who is not even president (yet) of his country. If Ms Arroyo and her advisers didn't find it improper or even demeaning to be so inordinately eager to see (Senator) Obama, there are others who did.”


The Philippine Daily Inquirer forgot, however, to tell that it is customary on the part of the American presidential candidates to visit with foreign leaders, so as to establish or embellish their foreign-relations credentials. In short, President Arroyo should have just waited for Senator Obama and/or Senator McCain to visit Manila and pay her a courtesy call. Or she could have waited for Mr. Obama and/or Mr. McCain at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC, or for that matter, at the Philippine Consulate General in New York—which are all extensions of Philippine territory and sovereignty. Proof? Please read a Reuters-News dispatch that says, “Obama to visit Middle East, Europe this summer.”

Instead, the Philippine President “behaved like a love-struck teenager, willing and ready to do everything and drop anything, including her dignity, just to see her idol” – to borrow the words of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.


President Arroyo and her top advisers did not get it right again. She should have known the “standard-operating procedure” (SOP) of American presidential candidates when it comes to foreign relations. The SOP is that that the “mountain does not go to Mahomet; Mahomet (or McCain or Obama) goes to the mountain.” Perhaps the Philippine President should dismiss her Foreign-Affairs Secretary for giving her bad advice – or for not trying to stop the stupidity of seeking an “audience” with Senators Obama and McCain – when it should have been the other way around. Or at least, she can make the Secretary of Foreign Affairs a convenient escape goat, if not to camouflage this major blunder in presidential protocol. Better yet, can the President fire herself?


Reproduced in this instant column are the excerpts from the Reuters News and Philippine Daily Inquirer articles.


And finally, this column has written many “unsolicited advices” not only to President Arroyo but to her predecessors, beginning with President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino. But all of them – and even their advisers – refused to consider our suggestions.


Please read the following articles that this columnist has dished out – all intended to help Mrs. Arroyo’s presidency and the people of the Philippines retain and maintain their dignity and faith in the country’s leadership:


Editorial: President Arroyo Must Go Back Home ASAP and Attend to Pressing Problems


President Arroyo Does Not Really Get It


Saving the Presidency and the Philippine President from Herself (Part II)


Saving the Philippine President from Herself (Part I)


Reinventing the "Ramon Magsaysay Line" in Solving Philippine Political Problems


Even Presidents Write Their Own Eulogy


What Phil Mickelson and President Arroyo Have in Common


Jobs Cannot Be Created by Press Releases Alone


Why Philippine Presidents Refuse to Answer Love Letters that Discuss the I2D2 Option


The Philippines’ Foreign IOUs Are Beyond "Debt Management" But . . .


Another Love Letter to President Arroyo (Part II)


The Philippine Government’s Credit-Card Type of Existence


* * * * *


Philippine Daily Inquirer

First Posted 01:26:00 06/28/2008         


MANILA, Philippines—Administration officials probably saw nothing wrong with it, but President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's determined—and ultimately futile—pursuit of Sen. Barack Obama made a number of Filipinos cringe in embarrassment.


The President was originally reported to have a meeting with the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee for President last Wednesday in New York, but the site was later changed to Washington, D.C., a convenient change for Ms Arroyo who was winding up her official visit to the US capital on that day. Wednesday came and went, but there was no Obama. (He was said to be on the other side of the United States, in Hollywood, attending a fund-raising event.) That night Ms Arroyo left for New York, where she later learned Obama would meet with her in Washington Thursday. There was talk Ms Arroyo might skip some of her scheduled activities in New York, including a meeting with foreign diplomats assigned to the United Nations, to fly back to Washington for the meeting with Obama. But again the meeting was called off. As a consolation, the senator from Illinois on Thursday gave her 30 minutes of his time—on the telephone.


Thus, the President of the Philippines ended up looking like the pesky little fly that needed to be thrown sweet nothings just so she would get out of the way of somebody who is not even president (yet) of his country. If Ms Arroyo and her advisers didn't find it improper or even demeaning to be so inordinately eager to see Obama, there are others who did. The President cannot behave like a love-struck teenager, willing and ready to do everything and drop anything, including her dignity, just to see her idol.

It is hard to believe that Obama or his people could be so insensitive and undiplomatic as to call off at the last minute a scheduled meeting with a foreign head of state. That simply isn't done, except if there is an emergency or unless someone wants to signal extreme displeasure. What most likely happened was that arrangements were made for a possible meeting and nothing definite was agreed upon, but some presumptuous Palace officials took the meeting as a done deal. Thus, on the eve of the President's departure, the Philippine consul general in San Francisco, Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr., announced that Obama and his Republican rival Sen. John McCain had "shown interest" in meeting with Ms Arroyo and that indeed the meetings had been confirmed.


But after finding out that no firm date had been set for the Arroyo-Obama meeting, why didn't the President's men just hide their disappointment instead of continuing to fish for a meeting? Better still, why didn't Ms Arroyo simply cut her trip short and go home to attend to the many things needing her attention in the face of the deaths and destruction wreaked by Typhoon Frank? Nobody would have noticed this misunderstanding with the Obama camp (if that was what it was) had she simply flown back to personally take charge of emergency relief operations.


She already got what she wanted from the visit: a reaffirmation of her friendship with US President George W. Bush and high praise from him for her campaign against terrorism. But apparently she wanted to blunt criticism about firming up relations with a lame-duck president by starting new personal relationships with his likely successors. She didn't quite succeed (at least as far as Obama is concerned), and instead embarrassed herself and the nation.


* * * *

Obama to visit Middle East, Europe this summer

Reuters News

Posted: 2008-06-28 15:12:59

By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, looking to bolster his expertise in foreign policy, will travel to Europe and the Middle East to consult on issues like terrorism and nuclear proliferation, his campaign said on Saturday.

The trip to France, Germany, Great Britain, Jordan and Israel will take place before the Democratic convention in late August, when Obama will be nominated to face Republican John McCain in November's presidential election.

Obama also plans to visit Iraq and Afghanistan this summer as part of a congressional delegation, but the campaign would not confirm those visits would be part of the same trip and would not give the exact dates of any foreign trips.Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, will meet with foreign leaders in an effort to build up his foreign policy credentials after attacks on the issue from rival McCain.

McCain, a former Vietnam prisoner of war and staunch advocate of the Iraq war, has questioned Obama's readiness to be commander in chief of the armed forces and his willingness to talk to leaders of hostile foreign nations without preconditions . . . # # #


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Last Updated on Monday, 10 November 2008 02:00

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