Aquino’s naming of pal as envoy to China hitBy Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The appointment of businessman Domingo Lee as the country’s new ambassador to China, North Korea and Mongolia “gives new meaning to the acronym KKK,” said Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino.
KKK was the acronym by which the Katipunan, the patriotic secret society founded by Andres Bonifacio in 1892, was known. It stood for Kataastaasang Kagalanggalangnang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Highest and Most Honorable Society of the Children of the Nation). Its discovery in 1896 led to the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution.
According to Palatino, KKK now stands for “Kamag-anak, Kaklase, Kaibigan” (Relatives, Classmates and Friends) as he joined some career diplomats in assailing President Aquino for appointing family friends and associates to his administration.
‘Bosses are the people’
“P-Noy should remember the pledge he made a year ago that his bosses are the people, not his friends and relatives,” he said.
Malacañang confirmed last weekend the appointment of Lee, the honorary president of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FFCCCI), who is known to have close ties to the Aquino family.
The Palace told those criticizing Lee’s appointment to take their objections to the congressional Committee on Appointments.
A career diplomat said Lee’s appointment was “demoralizing” to the foreign service corps.
He reminded Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario of his promise to recruit the “best and the brightest” to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), “especially since the Aquino administration is a reform-oriented government.”
A senior diplomat believes Lee, who is in his 70s, “will probably be ineffective and a disservice to all of us.”
“We have a new on-the-job trainee. We’ve had similar trainees in the past. Let’s give (Lee) a chance to learn, if not master diplomacy,” quipped another DFA employee.
Lee’s experiences cited
The FFCCCI has expressed full support for Lee. It cited Lee’s “past experience as a diplomat, his strong Filipino roots, and his deep understanding of the Chinese culture.”
Lee, whose ancestors were immigrants from Fujian province in southeastern China, headed the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco), the country’s de facto embassy in Taipei, during the administration of President Corazon Aquino.
In the book “Cory, an Intimate Portrait,” Lee wrote about his closeness to the Aquino family: “Ninoy and I were childhood friends in our hometown of Concepcion, Tarlac. His father was my godfather. We grew up and bonded a lot. Ours was a special friendship, a treasure of a lifetime. Indeed, he was more than a friend to me. We grew up like brothers. Naturally, his chosen partner for life was a matter of special interest to me.”
Last September, Lee was a member of the business delegation that joined Mr. Aquino on his official trip to the United States.
Lee, who is said to be a major stockholder of Tower Steel Corp., was listed as a “senior adviser” of Philippine Savings Bank.