Foreign Service Insider

A frank and open forum on the Philippine Foreign Service and how it affects the lives of millions of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

Sunday, December 10, 2006

ASEAN Summit Postponed

The last-minute postponement of the Philippine hosting of the ASEAN Summit in Cebu was a terminal blow to the international image of the Arroyo administration. It is simply unheard of. As a career diplomat, I am embarassed by these events. After all, it was a great inconvenience to the visiting heads of states/governments who plan their trips way in advance because their time is precious. And the lame excuse of the incoming storm (which, in the end, did not even hit Cebu) was an insult to one's intelligence.

I believe that the Philippines was pressured into the last-minute postponement. USA, Australia, Canada, UK and other countries had issued advisories against travel to Cebu by their citizens during the summit. They may as well have shouted in our faces that they do not want to go to Cebu at this time.

Why? Because of the brewing political storm over the desperate attempts of the administration to amend the constitution. The desperation seems to be out of fear that the administration candidates will lose in the May 2007 elections. This could lead to GMA's impeachment if they lose the majority in congress to the opposition.

Meantime, they are heading for a collision with the left, the intellectuals, the organized church (Catholic, INC, El Shaddai, JIL, etc.). The handwriting is on the wall. No leader can continue if he/she is at loggerheads with the Church.

This is the beginning of the end. And the world leaders know this. I wonder how long this will play out.

Monday, December 04, 2006

On re-cycled and extended ambassadors

Retired Ambassador Juan A. Ona has issued a very interesting challenge to the young career officers of DFA: sign a manifesto promising not to ask for extensions when the time comes. This is premised on the theory that in order to change the world, start with yourself. Also, it sends a powerful signal to those shameless recycled and extended ambassadors.

I have very high regard for Ambassador Ona. He has always been a voice of wisdom in the howling wilderness that has befallen the DFA. What's more important, he walks his talk.

It is unfortunate that nobody will be able to gather the nerve to take up his challenge. You see, this would be tantamount to a CLM (career limiting move). Any young officer who signs such a manifesto at this time would make powerful enemies in the likes of Seguis, Caday, Siazon and their allies down the line.

But, thank you, Ambassador Ona. You are quite right. We can't change others. We can only start with ourselves.