January 16, 2018, 11:10 pm
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Cayetano as DFA Secretary

THE second deadliest country in the world in 2016, according to a CNN report, was Mexico. I wouldn’t be surprised if she still is today.
Yet she has largely escaped the attention of the government of her neighbor to the north and the biggest market for her drug cartels, the United States. According to the US Department of Justice, the Mexican drug cartels send between $19 billion and $29 billion back to Mexico from the US. My, that’s a lot!
CNN also says Mexico’s drug wars claimed 23,000 lives in 2016 – second only to Syria where 50,000 people died as a result of the ongoing civil war in that country.
Yet this gruesome fact hardly made the headlines in the US and other Western media, nor did it catch the attention of the UN, the European Union and sundry organizations like the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
In contrast, the attention we get mainly from Western governments and media, the UN and EU certainly appears unwarranted when we consider the number of the assumed drug-related deaths in the Philippines which is less than one-third of those in Mexico.
Without a doubt, we would not be getting all this attention were it not for the apparent vilification campaign led, or encouraged, by Washington and the US media. 
Let’s not even talk about the local mainstream media owned by oligarchs who are not happy with the policies of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte aka Digong.
And, of course, we should not discount the US lackeys in our midst who have for so long lorded over the country, many of them belonging to the elite and the oligarchy. The US loses influence, they lose influence. Simple.
So, why the campaign obviously being waged to discredit or derail Digong?
We have always been considered the linchpin of US influence in the Southeast Asian region. As such, we were supposed to remain loyal and subservient to her. 
But not anymore!
With the shift to an independent foreign policy as mandated by the Constitution no less, Digong has, unlike all his predecessors, seen the correctness and advantages of being friends to all who would be friends with us, particularly the big powers.
Digong’s detractors need only look at the benefits the country has so far derived from that policy: $24 billion in investments, loans and grants from China and building of two bridges for free across the Pasig River; offers of military assistance and enhanced trade relations with Russia; building of a subway system in Metro Manila by Japan; ships from Japan and South Korea; among others.
But perhaps even more important than the material benefits are the respect and admiration that the country has earned due to Digong’s policies. 
Witness, for instance, how the leaders of the two most powerful nations in the world, China President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump, now regard the President of our Republic, Digong. They phoned him. Unprecedented.
As I said in my last column, I’d rather not speculate on the reasons the two leaders called Digong, what they told him or asked him to do. 
Suffice it to say that both Xi and Trump consider Digong important enough to talk with or consult on whatever it was they had in mind. 


As a former career foreign service officer, I am naturally partial to having a qualified career officer to head the DFA. (I was ambassador to Bangladesh, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Laos and Thailand; Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN and Alternate Representative to the Security Council in New York; Permanent Representative to the UN Office, IAEA and UNIDO in Vienna and ESCAP in Bangkok; assistant secretary for Press and Public Affairs, for Asean Affairs and for UN Affairs.) 
And so I was elated when Digong named Undersecretary Enrique Manalo as acting secretary to replace Perfecto Yasay, Jr. whose nomination as DFA head was rejected by the Commission on Appointments. 
And when Digong said, shortly after he named Manalo, that he needed Senator Alan Cayetano more in the Senate and then Cayetano himself said that the “situation has changed” insofar as his taking over the DFA was concerned, my hopes for a permanent appointment for Manalo were raised, especially after he proved himself quite capable in the short time he has been acting secretary. 
I am not saying Cayetano will not do a good job as foreign secretary given his lack of experience in the field of diplomacy. As Digong said, he is brilliant and I’m confident he will learn his new job quickly enough, especially as he will be backed up by dedicated and competent professional DFA officers and staff. 
I was also happy to hear him say he will not engage in “microphone diplomacy”. He does tend to perorate at times, even “lecture”, when making a point or replying to queries. 
Too, hogging the microphone in diplomacy is a no-no. If you do that, audiences will begin to listen to you less. 
Cayetano should be able to articulate and implement Digong’s foreign policy with fewer words. I wish him all the best. 


Aquino said he was not an “accountable officer” and was, therefore, not liable for the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). 
That was his major problem. He has no clue as to what “command responsibility” means. He has no sense of accountability at all. That is how he earned the moniker “Boy Sisi”. 
He approved the DAP. Surely, he must have also approved or at least known about the alleged payment of bribes to senators and congressmen taken from the DAP to impeach the late Chief Justice Renato Corona. 
He claims he is not corrupt. But everyone knows he tolerated the rampant corruption that his minions were committing during his watch. That made him no different from them. 
Even the gargantuan illegal drug problem we now face may be attributed to his evident lack of concern and empathy for the hoi polloi. He is an oligarch. 
Today is the 18th day of the eleventh year of the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos, son of the late press icon and founder of this newspaper.
The family and friends of Jonas hope that the Duterte administration will exert serious efforts to find and haul the perpetrators of Jonas’ disappearance to justice.
From an internet friend: 
= To succeed in life, you need a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.
= Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.
= We are all here on earth to help others. What on earth the others are here for, I don’t know.
= Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.
= Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese.
= Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves.
= Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.
= They say marriages are made in Heaven, but so are thunder and lightning. 
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