Jove Francisco provides the transcript of the Palace-approved “real” phone conversation of the President. He gives the Palace press corps’s reaction, as well. Read his additional comments, they make for interesting reading. I disagree with some of Joves’s points, mainly with regards to his surprise over how the President seems to have micromanaged the past campaign. There’s no other way to do it, and it is how her father conducted his campaigns: methodically, relentlessly, and with great attention to goings-on in the remotest local level. She is, after all, the daughter of the man who won the presidency by trying to visit every single barrio in the country.
Now whether or not the best defense is really a good offense, and whether what the palace calls the real version of the phone calls doesn’t cause more trouble than it tries to solve, remains to be seen.
All’s well in Israel where the Philippine ambassador apologized for comparing Israeli authorities to the Nazi Gestapo. My feelings on this brief diplomatic tempest are mixed. The ambassador should not have said what he said, but his frustration was well-intentioned, and reflects the kind of excesses permissible to diplomats in aid of securing the goals of their country: by which I mean it is a diplomatic tactic to cause a stir, only to back donw after the more important strategic objectives have been met (the Americans have done that here, often, stirring up trouble by having a lower-level flunky shoot his mouth off, only for the comment to be officially denounced). The harsh treatment of some Filipino workers is a long-standing issue, and I asked Israeli diplomats here about it, and they claimed it was a thing of the past. The ambassador’s going over the top rhetorically did get action from the Israeli authorities, and that’s what our diplomats are meant to do: get foreign governments to do attend to the needs of our citizens.
Speaking of diplomats, Philippine Consul General Cecile Rebong is in the hot seat over the rent she pays for her official residence in Manhattan. Columnist Federico Pascual gives a fair summary of what is really a non-issue. He suggests she may have just pissed off one self-righteous Fil-Am too many. Anyway, Fil-Ams are ticked off: one list of schedules includes a meeting to discuss what to do with her:
*6/12 SUN, 3 pm – Community Town Hall Meeting responding to the alarming expose of Filipino NY Consul General Cecilia Rebong’s budget allowance of $10k a month to sustain her posh residence at Manhattan’s Trump Tower at UN Plaza. All Filipinos as well as Consul General Rebong & consulate reps invited “to openly discuss what is viable community concern.” W/discussion of fate of fmr Marcos-owned 66th St townhouse now going to waste but w/potential to be used for public benefit. At PF Qns office, 54-05 Seabury St, Elmhurst (G/V/R to Qns Blvd). Sponsor: Phillippine Forum. Info: 718-565-8862. More info: NY Cmt for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), nyc…@yahoo.com
Again, I think Pascual has it right. The real lesson here is about how the government allows its properties abroad to reach such a state of neglect, that expensive solutions have to be found to fix them. The Philippine Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C., for example, became so decrepit that the second floor was on the verge of collapse; the old embassy building, the historic old chancery purchased during the Commonwealth, is falling apart, while the government decides what to do with it. The disgraceful state of public buildings at home is more than duplicated by the state of government buildings abroad.