The Nobel Affair

As told by President Aquino it is a case of hostage taking, only in reverse.

I refer to the decision of the Administration not to attend the ceremony awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiabo.

Instead of Chinese tourists being hostage, it is now the Philippines- or more accurately five Filipinos sentenced by China to death for drug trafficking- that is held in ransom. If the country was to attend the Nobel ceremony, pleas to save the five would be compromised.

‘Our need is to advance our citizen’s needs first” said the President. “It’s in our national interest that we do not at this time send a representative to the Nobel award rites. But we remain firmly committed to human rights.” As proof, P-Noy was pictured on Dec. 10 proudly celebrating Human Rights Day.

Since when has the human rights of others not been in our national interest?

The Philippines will join 16 other nations in not sending ambassadors to Oslo. These include Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, Sudan and Cuba, bastions all of democracy. Sixty nations are sending emissaries.

The President cited two other reasons for boycotting Oslo: One, the Government wanted to put “closure” to the Luneta incident and, two, he was concerned about the safety of nine Filipinos in North Korea and 50,000 in S. Korea who might be affected by the tensions in the peninsula. China is seeking to mediate the dispute between the two countries.

Wow.

Hand it to the President: Lame but he called it the way it was or, he thought, should be.

It was certainly better than the explanation of DFA spokesperson, Eduardo Malaya: “Our ambassador to Norway has a scheduling conflict (and therefore cannot attend).” Yeah, blame it on Amb. Elizabeth Buencuceso, who apparently is on the way out anyway.

Ridiculous as it sounded, this was actually an improvement on the response of DFA Sec. Bert Romulo: “We will see because it’s still Dec.10…We will see after tomorrow, OK?” Spoken like a true diplomat.

The Government’s decision has been heavily criticized by human rights group and Filipinos in the street. They reminded P-Noy, if he needed reminding, that his mother was herself nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

What can we say about this charade?

One, it is a sad and shameful day when our nation can no longer stand for what it knows to be virtuous and true. Our sovereignty is now dictated by foreign governments. China might want to nominate our next DFA Secretary.

Two, our officials insult our intelligence with their explanations. On the Filipino drug traffickers, we sympathize with the plight of their families, but drug violators regardless of nationality deserve their fate. The Chinese  got that one right.

Then the story about Filipinos in the Koreas: Come again, we are not attending the Nobel ceremony because the Chinese are negotiating a quarrel among Koreans that may affect our countrymen in the area?

Talk of an overreach.

By that token, we should submit to the U.S. because they are brokering the Middle-East conflict where Filipinos work; and kowtow to whoever African nation is brokering peace in Sudan, Somalia and the Congo. Is this our new foreign policy doctrine?

As for the responses from the DFA secretary and his mouthpiece, the less said the better. Do we actually pay these guys to say these things?

Three, we are mistaken if we believe compromising our core values earns us respect and leverage with other nations. The opposite applies: When we display cowardice and weakness, when we are prepared to negotiate our soul, we only earn their contempt. We are a nation that can be threatened with little and bought, not for very much.

In the Luneta incident, eight innocent tourists died because the Government bungled negotiations with the hostage taker.

In the Nobel incident, our sovereignty died because we gave in to the hostage taker.

Question: What happens if the Chinese choose anyway to execute the five Filipinos? Will the Government then still decide it was a gamble worth taking?

In 1983 a man returned and gave up his life because a principle was worth dying for.

In 1986 thousands of Filipinos marched the streets at their risk their because that same principle was worth standing up for.

In 2010 a man determined that the principle is not,  even when it is what got him to where he is.

You might call it ironic.

You might also call it a disgrace.

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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