Obama ignoring Aquino


President Obama’s visits to Tanzania (population: 46 million) and Senegal (13 million people) last week, together with President Aquino’s transiting to his term’s second half is a sad reminder of the messed-up, pathetic state of our foreign relations.

Despite the yoking of our foreign policy to that of the US, Obama has ignored the Philippines as a nation he has to visit to send his country’s clear message of support.

 Secretary Albert del RosarioIn the community of nations, the visit of the president of the US, the most powerful nation on earth to a country—especially a developing one—is the clearest signal that that nation considers it as an important country.

Obama has not visited the Philippines and it is unlikely he will do so under Aquino’s term.

The Philippines is not in the list of other nations to be visited by Obama for the remainder of the year, although he would in the neighborhood — in Indonesia (his third visit) for the APEC summit and to Brunei for the ASEAN meet both in October.

The Philippines will join Vietnam and Laos as the only countries among the ASEAN that Obama has not visited.

table4june2013Most US presidents – for practical reasons —have visited the Philippines only during the first half of a President’s term, and not in the second, nearly lame-duck period: Lyndon Johnson in 1966 right after Marcos assumed power; Bill Clinton in 1994 in the second year of Fidel Ramos term; and George W. Bush in 2003, also in President Arroyo’s second year in office.

Aquino will likely suffer her mother’s fate. Neither Ronald Reagan nor George H. W. Bush cared to visit Cory Aquino in Manila, despite America’s idolization of her as democracy’s saint and her pro-American stance.

But why would in this realpolitik world Obama bother to go to the Philippines when Aquino and his top diplomats have already been so subservient to America’s wishes, acting as Asia’s high-profile acolyte for its “pivot to Asia”?

There are seven countries disputing China’s claims to the South China Sea, all questioning its so-called infamous “nine-dash line” as a demarcation of the territories it claims as its own. Taiwan uses the same demarcation to make its own claims.

China even violently seized the Paracel islands from Vietnam in 1974, killing more than 70 Vietnamese troops. There was another clash between the two countries resulting in 50 more Vietnamese sailors killed. China and the third (or fourth) biggest economy in the world – Japan – are also locked in serious territorial disputes, with the Japanese all riled up over China’s declaration that Okinawa belongs to it.

But what country is at the forefront of the gang telling China to back off? What country has become the US’s main, and loudest, mouthpiece, to put down China and weaken its standing in Asia, and thus assisting it in its pivot to Asia? The Philippines under Aquino.

It reminds me so much of my youth, when my friends and I would persuade the most insecure and most intelligence-challenged kid to pick a fight with somebody we didn’t like.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario indeed has become the US’ reliable debater to confront China in ASEAN forums, even as Obama last month became buddy-buddy on a first-name basis with Premiere Xi Jinping in an unprecedented informal resort setting in Sunnylands, California.

This president has even been so brash as to risk a constitutional crisis by giving the US the right to base its troops and warships in their old bases in Clark and Subic, with the implicit goal of frightening China.

US troops were given temporary stations in Mindanao during President Arroyo’s term, since we were fighting a very real enemy, the Abu Sayyaf and the local operatives of al-Qaeda. By offering the US a similar arrangement in Luzon, is Aquino saying that we will soon go to war against China over the Spratlys?

Can’t Aquino and our foreign secretary see that they are being made the stooges in America’s tactic of demonizing China while it itself draws closer to it?

Even our top diplomats talk and appear so pro-American and so anti-China. Secretary del Rosario served seven years as our ambassador to the US, a post that so brainwashed him as to embrace Washington’s either-you-are-with-us-or-against-us world view, excusable certainly since he was there when America occupied the high moral ground after 9/11.

Our current ambassador to the US, Jose Cuisia, is known to have spent years as an executive of the Philippine branch of AIG, the failed insurance giant. He even looks American that I am told he often risks the embarrassment of being asked in diplomatic functions in Washington: “Are you from the State Department?”

And who does Aquino send to China to represent us?

While she is definitely a nice lady, Ambassador Erlinda Basilio is a 69-year old lola taken out of retirement. She is so loved by foreign affairs’ corps that they call her “Tita”, but she doesn’t have the stature to convince the Chinese that we are considering China as an important country.

China is becoming both a huge source of investments and of official development assistance. Cambodia’s foreign investment figures zoomed up in the past few years solely because of Chinese investments. It received a $500 million ODA infusion from China this year, obviously because of its pro-China stance in ASEAN meetings.

Our country on the other hand has practically closed its doors to Chinese investments and ODA, at a time when we need help most.

Yes, we have to fight for our territorial rights if we are to maintain our integrity as a nation.

The six other countries with territorial disputes with China have also been doing so, but with such finesse and diplomacy that they aren’t antagonizing China and appearing to be so much America’s lackey.

We have become the world’s laughing stock. After Aquino declares “We will defend our territory to the last man”, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin broadcasts to the world: “
We cannot stand alone. We need allies. If we do not (seek allies), we will be bullied by bigger forces and that is what is happening now. China is already there, staying in our territory.”

Expectedly, a writer of the China’s People’s Daily pounced on Gazmin’s stupid remark:
“The Philippines, knowing that it’s weak, believes that ‘a crying child will have milk to drink’.”

The sad aspect is that we’re not even getting much from the Americans for our subservience.

As proof, check out the table in this article to see how small US official development to our country has been, compared to Indonesia, where China has its biggest investments in Asia. Indonesia, by the way, has an independent foreign policy.

A Filipino journalist in Brunei attending the ASEAN-US ministerial meeting noted in his Facebook account that US State Secretary John Kerry was formal with other foreign ministers, but was extremely warm with del Rosario.

I certainly am not surprised. “Our boy in Asia,” the thought bubble above Kerry’ s could have been in a photograph of the towering US official, with his hand on del Rosario’s slumped shoulder.

www.rigobertotiglao.com and www.trigger.ph


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  1. ALL US Presidents who visits foreign countries have one thing in common. They come back with SIGNED agreements usually for trade issues but also defense. What pray tell will the President of United States do here? It certainly will NOT be to sign investment agreements like in Tanzania, Senegal and South Africa. The Philippine Constitution and Aquino’s unwillingness to consider lifting restrictions makes that impossible! Besides, US Companies have either left or are preparing to leave the Philippines for “friendlier” countries. Even DOLE (the fruit company) is packing up… So I ask; what will President Obama do here? Say HI? That’s a wasted trip and the time will be much better spent visiting other countries and signing trade agreements where both sides prosper.

  2. I’m American and my first visit to the Philippines was in 1979. As a member of the US military, I lived in the Philippines in the early 80’s. Despite not having the many “comforts of home” that I’m used to in America, I fell in love with the Philippines and it’s people. I was very saddened by the closing of the US bases in the Philippines in 1992 at the hands of Joseph Estrada and his cronies. Not from a US standpoint, but from the standpoint that many Filipinos lost well paying jobs, many young Filipino men lost the opportunity to join the US military, and many Filipinos lost the hope that one day maybe they would have the opportunity to build better lives for their families. You elected Joseph Estrada to be your president. He was removed from office and you sent him to a prison equal to the Holiday Inn. Then Arroyo pardoned him. In 2010 he’s allowed to run for the presidency again and he almost wins the election! Now you’ve elected this convicted criminal to be the mayor of your capital city! Can someone tell me where the $652M the Philippines received from the US over the past 7 yrears was spent? It certainly wan’t used to upgrade your military, it wasn’t used to bring millions of filipinos out of poverty either. The lack of basic social services haven’t received significant upgrades either. Sewage still flows in ditches alongside your streets. Brownouts are as prevelant now as they were 40 years ago. Your woman suffer a lifetime of pain and suffering in abusive marriages because you seem to be proud that you’re the only country in the world besides Vatican City to not allow divorce. C’mon Philippines, do you really still wonder why the Philippines isn’t respected by world leaders?

    • Arnel Amador on

      i appreciate your concern towards us, filipinos. however, you don’t have to. we can survive despite being ignored by other people which include those supposed to be our friends. personally, i find poverty as my strenght. we can live within the limit of what we can have.
      about the amounts given by us to ph, i don’t think you have to worry about that. your country will not give any cent without anything in return bigtime. that’s fact. my country, ph, is paying its debt religiously every year, amounting to more than 6 BILLION US $, for INTEREST alone to creditors in the west, including usa. those so called aids by develop countries, with so many conditions attached, are peanuts compared to the amount ph is given them thru legal “loan sharks”. other amount of us aid to ph are in kind, ie, scrap huey helicopters, scrap spare parts and other condemned military hardware from the us arm forces with price tag on it. others, for the procurement of condom to the us owned pharmaceutical co. for pops control. again, assuming that us aid goes directly to the 30M filipino poor, at 117M in 2011(see table above), that’s equavalent to less than 4$/person/year.

    • Are you insinuating the U.S. is ignoring the Philippines? Who has been training and equipping the Philippine military in the fight against the insurgents in the south? What country is the first to respond when the Philippines is hit by typhoons, flooding, earthquakes and landslides? What did the US receive in return for the two US Coast Guard Cutters recently delivered to the Philippines for free? Those ships could have easily been sold to any number of South American or Middle Eastern country for profit! American boys who fought and died to rescue the Philippines from the Japanese in WWII are buried throughout your country! One of those cemeteries in Clark was ignored by the Philippine government and the Filipino people after the Americans left in 1992. It was American ex-pats who volunteered their own time and their own money to ensure the cemetery was rescued and that the sacrifices of those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen IN SUPPORT OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE wasn’t forgotten! How dare you say we Americans “will not give any cent without anything in return”! Those boys gave their lives! You ungrateful ***!

      If your anger towards the US Military is about the cities of Olongapo and Angeles when the US bases were open, remember this: The US didn’t build those bars and go to the provinces to find the girls to fill them. Those girls came voluntarily to make money to support their families and to realize their dream of finding a way to escape the corruption and poverty of your country! And who owned many of those bars then, and still do now? THE CHINESE!

      Maybe the US should refuse to help the Philippines because of people like you who show little gratitude and have very short memories! The world will sit back and watch while the Chinese crush you like the Japanese did! I hope you like Chop Suey!

  3. Igmedio Bataoil on

    Countrymen: please do not despair; you did NOT miss anything from Obama. Every time this guy opens his mouth, he’ll dazzle you with his outright lies and empty promises. He’s the biggest PIMP around, saying one thing but does another. His presidency that featured his teleprompter where his prepared speeches (lies and embellishments) that enamored much of the world, he is a natural thug that knows nothing and always up to no good. He’ll go down as the worst “community organizer” err, president of the US.

  4. Oh, to the Filipinos who are American apologists,your comments are so tasteless.Who can blame you on your comments lahat na ata ng kamaganak nyo nasa States . Broke and heavely debted to china amounting to billions your patron is done.

    • Yes, heavily debted to China. Solution: STOP providing well over $50 billion in annual US Aid to foreign governments. Including $585M in economic assistance, and 26M in military assistance to the Philippines. Then again, I’m very sure you’d complain about that too!

  5. lydia baradi albay on

    Looking on the table as per disbursement is concerned why you are much concerned why indonesia got more than us. just think about it why, do you ever think what happened to those disbursement given to us, did it went to the proper intended party. they had been helping us for long time and never find good results ending on somebody’s pocket. if only we disburse it properly then they are more than happy to gave more……

    if you think obama ignoring BSA, just remember it was the time of her mother when the american base was rooted out. do you think the americans have no hands in ousting marcos and installing her. after they left what happen, more chinese nationals came to the country.

  6. The personal bias a writer have tend to become very evident when even in the matter of such a small significance as to a visit by a foreign leader to our country is being made and raised as an issue. Well, I would perhaps bite that if like what happened to a King in one of the parables in the Bible who in one of his banquettes invited certain guests to come over but whose invitations were deliberately ignored. Of course, I’m totally aware that then PGMA was so (“atat na atat”) obsessed at having a meeting with Pres. Obama that time. But such obsession has been only granted to her after numerous tries and was one that is not a one on one meeting but in the company of many others which Pres.Obama decided wants the meeting to be.

    That we are being made Stooges of America should be very far from the minds of a true loving democratic Filipino citizen. We are a democracy, the US is a democracy who would you turn yourself more into for help at a time when you are being bullied? Are you gonna turn to a non democratic country which is itself the one bullying you? Or that you’ll just vow your head to it because you can’t practically match its strength with yours. That’s a lot of bulls… I guess.

    • Don`t read his comments, read penoy newspaper the Enquirer. Stooges columnists are all there.

  7. Sir, you’re wrong! If the nation still remember it’s Mrs. Gloria Arroyo that kept being snubbed by Obama. No matter how Arroyo try to cuddle up to the then newly-elected US pres. all the vain effort was to no avail. PNoy had a number of meetings with Obama in the past. It’s that what you call ignoring? The problems besetting our country with regard to our West Philippine Sea territories and why we almost lost them is because of your patron – Mrs. Arroyo who even had the nerve to be seen playing golf in China with officials of ZTE a graft-ridden deal.The US pivot to Asia, the US has its eyes on the Philippines, it’s that what you call ignoring? In due time we’ll be able to deal with China’s bullying even without US directly helping us. Of course they can’t get actively involved with another country’s internal affairs, but the US has its ways, as always, of helping a beleaguered ally. Be a leader in helping our country in this perilous times, Mr. Tiglao, and not a fusspot.

  8. Enrico Torres on

    How come Filipinos are not reacting to the chinese occupation of a part of the Philippines territory. No massing on the streets.No demonstrations? Why?

  9. You have to remember, the Philippines is neither a black or a Muslim country plus no significant oil reserves to draw their interest. So we do not fit in his priorities. No used complaining. It’s just the way it is.

    • what is the complaint for? shooks people! if the US president visit the philippines, we will have something to say, if he did not, we complain.
      god’s sakes, stop already. we don’t need to be visited. we are good as we are. do your share, and we will be much better. stop the complaining, ok? let’s get to work. most of us pinoys are good in yakityyak! prove your worth ok?

  10. Ironically, most Filipinos in the US idolize Obama and were brainwashed by his charm like so many other liberal idiots. Obamas agenda has nothing to do with the Philippines other then trying to make the US just as poor. My wife who is from Makati and educated cannot stand Obama or the “welfare” mentality he stands for. She was appalled that Pinoy newspapers in the Las Vegas area were writing such propaganda in an attempt to sway voters for him. Looks like the Phils will now reap it rewards for bcking another Handsome Hitler in disguise.

  11. Enrico Torres on

    Its sad that in my opinion, most filipinos don’t realize that we are now the world’s laughing stock especially in the area of foreign relations because of the government’s amateurish foreign policy..China is now occupying our territory yet nobody cares?