President Aquino says US envoy was misled
It was President Benigno Aquino III’s turn to diss former US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney.
Reacting to purported confidential US Embassy cables recently released by antisecrecy website WikiLeaks, the President said on Monday Kenney’s remarks on him and his mother’s style of leadership were “far from the truth.”
In an interview with Palace reporters, Mr. Aquino also announced that he was attending a governance conference in New York City at the end of the month upon the invitation of US President Barrack Obama.
He said he did not think the leaked papers would affect his trip.
The President was asked to comment particularly on a cable supposedly sent by Kenney to Washington on her assessment of him after they had a hourlong coffee meeting in January 2010 when he was then a senator running for president.
Kenney had described Mr. Aquino as “clearly more relaxed and self-possessed than in previous encounters” when he appeared as a “diffident and unassertive man continuing a political tradition handed on by his parents but not carving his own legacy.”
The US ambassador who is now posted in Thailand also said Mr. Aquino was “vague” about specific policies he would pursue if he would come into office unlike the other presidential candidates at that time.
The President acknowledged that the US government would not comment officially on the authenticity of the cables and stressed that he was “commenting on something that are bits of speculation.”
“For me, in case these cables were true, maybe they should assess their capabilities to assess and gather the necessary information so that they will have a right basis for their decisions,” Mr. Aquino said, speaking in Filipino.
“The way I see it, there is a person on the ground who is the eyes and ears of one of our biggest allies and yet it seemed so easy to be misled. So you tend to think what are the implications to foreign policy? What is she reporting? If they believe that she is the most prompt and complete source of information, it seems far from the actual truth,” the President said.
Mr. Aquino’s local critics have slammed him for failing to outline his vision for the country and his supposed “nobody home” style of governance over a year into his presidency.
The President also mentioned Kenney’s supposed cables on his mother, saying that the Department of Foreign Affairs would make a “formal comment on the issues” the US envoy raised there.
In a purported July 2009 cable, Kenny said that Corazon Aquino’s “credibility as a moral crusader has been tarnished” when she associated herself with former President Joseph Estrada in protests against then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for allegedly stealing the 2004 presidential elections, a charge Arroyo has vehemently denied.
Kenny reportedly noted that Corazon Aquino had supported Arroyo during the People Power uprising that ousted Estrada in 2001.
The US ambassador was quoted in the cables as saying that while Corazon Aquino was revered as a heroine for helping restore democracy in the Philippines, her moral leadership “never fully compensated for her weak leadership style.”
Mr. Aquino said that Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario had already issued statements on this cable but added that if indeed this was sent by Kenney, her assessments on his mother was “far from the truth.”
“You will worry if you have wrong information to base a decision on, how can your decision be right,” he said.
Still, the President said these cables were now in the past and that he could not change anymore its contents whatever he does. What was “important” was now and tomorrow, he said.
Mr. Aquino said he did not think that the supposed Kenney cables would affect his upcoming trip to the United States.
“Open governance is something that we are also championing and we seek to do the same for the rest of the world,” he said. “So why should we not help and have stable, progressive countries everywhere in the world that can be our partners as we try to achieve our own progress.”
Del Rosario last week said Kenney criticisms were “unfortunate” and that unlike her predecessors, she was a “dismal failure in helping Filipinos defend our democracy.”
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