Ambassador Kristie Kenney and the awkwardness of what Wikileaks reveals about the Philippines

Of course the best policy is to shut up when faced with an awkward situation. Thus the term awkward silence. The Wikileaks-facilitated expose on what the United States really thinks of the Philippines is one awkward situation indeed. Of course it does not take a genius to work out how a bumbling basket case such as the Philippines figures in the priorities of a superpower such as the US. But then to actually have the finer details of the US’s less-than-surprising sentiment towards its embarrassing former East Asian posterchild spelt out in black and white still makes a good talking point among the nation’s chattering classes.

Former United States ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney, caught red-handed (albeit after the fact) dissing Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is keeping mum. What else can she do when there is no denying the existence of a document that allegedly quotes her making rather spot-on assessments of the Philippine President’s diffidence and assertiveness?

It is particularly awkward considering that Kenney was quite the celebrity diplomat during her Manila gig. She has in excess of 21,700 followers on Twitter with Filipinos, by my reckoning on the basis of a small sample consisting of the first 50-odd followers that shows up on her profile, comprising 70 to 80 percent of these.

Indeed, during her stint in Manila, Kenney was a frequent subject of adulation in the Philippine Media which avidly followed her very public hobnobbing with the who’s-who of Philippine society in various social events. She was, according to her Filipino fans, the “most loved US envoy the country has ever had”. During her tearful farewell in early 2010 after four years serving in Manila, Kenney vowed to return…

“I will be back. Because once you have me as a friend, you have me for life. I love this country. I enjoy being here. I’ll be back to visit friends, to dive, to see everything that’s going on here.”

“Paalam sa inyong lahat (Farewell to you all). Thanks to Filipinos throughout the world for being great friends not just to me but to Americans wherever they are. Goodbye. I’ll see you until the next time,” she said before reciting her ‘favorite Irish blessing’ which she offered to the entire nation.

Makes it doubly awkward considering this “vow” presumably still stands.

Malacanang also zipped up, but not after President Aquino, true to form, had already let loose some dissing of his own against the former US ambassador who he claims to have been “misled”.

Obviously piqued and definitely not unassertive, Aquino said this week that Kenney had been misled, that her assessment of him was wrong, and that Washington should improve its intelligence. “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,” Aquino said, according to news reports.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario for his part called her “a dismal failure”.

By the time Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang parachuted in to effect a too-little-too-late “No Comment” policy on anything to do with the subject, the awkwardness had already set in.

“I think in that particular case, there was something said about his mother and I think it was important for him, for (Foreign) Secretary (Albert) del Rosario and for others who have commented to set the record straight since the comments were already out in the media,” Carandang said.

“But in general, we will refrain from commenting on those WikiLeaks reports,” he said.

Still, he said that if the Aquino family would want to make comments on WikiLeaks that had to do with Ms Aquino, “they are free to do so.”

Deafening silence.

It is a boo-boo that plays out like a scene from an episode of a Ricky Gervais sitcom. At best we all ‘ave a bit of a laugh before going to bed. I find that the active ingredient in the best comedies is quite often more than a dash of the Truth.


Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of

Leave a Reply

52 Comments on "Ambassador Kristie Kenney and the awkwardness of what Wikileaks reveals about the Philippines"

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Dr. Noh

so true 🙁

awkward remark… followed by awkward silence.
guess even Carandang isnt fast enough to do a bit of PR spin before his boss shoots off his mouth again


Aquino Student Council

Hyden Toro
During the ending of World War II, in Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler and his loyal Nazis, were holed up in a bunker in Belin, Germany. The Soviet Unions tanks, and infantries, were already on the outskirts of Berlin. The Fuhrer Adolf Hitler, still believed in total victory in the war. This is according to the book witten by the late: Albert Speer, “Inside the Third Reich”. Speer was the Minister of Armaments of Hitler. Same as those of the Yellow Horde Nazi KALIBAPIs. They delude themselves, believing, they are doing good; while the country is being piled-up by problems. They… Read more »
Aquino said this week that Kenney had been misled, that her assessment of him was wrong, and that Washington should improve its intelligence. Why deny the obvious? Noynoy’s remarks remind me of hefty ladies in denial complaining about something being wrong with the mirror because they look fat in it. That Wikileaks document yelled, “the Emperor has no clothes!”–to Aquino’s (and to his die-hard supporters’) embarrassment. In order to look good, PNoy’s gov’t prefers to measure itself against a set of standards it created, no matter how subjective and unreliable these are in comparison to those objective ones set by… Read more »
G. Alfonso

Action is LOUDER than Words. Prove them wrong by doing something good for your country MR. So called president of the Republic of the Philippines. Philippines already hit bottom as a nation for being basket case for time immemorial so it should be somewhat easy to rise up from the gutter. lead the way Mr. Penoy Philippine president.

Vincenzo B. Arellano

Tuta ni GMA si Kenney


what is more interesting and telling is aquino’s response to kenney’s accurate assessment.

rather than being statesmanlike , he goes into a temper tantrum and criticises the us intelligence gathering.

his lack of experience and sensitivities soon show.

as a non achiever in the 3rd world, he is a bottom feeder in the scheme of things dependent on the charity of other countries.

he better learn some manners, and know his place

Dr. Noh

The Wikileaks just keep coming… kalo ko dati it didnt have anything juicy on Philippine scandals:

Villar’s wikileak:

Mike Arroyo’s wikileak:

Catholic church’s wikileak:

(strange that the Catholic church would have explicit instructions not to touch GMA but every other politicial manipulations is fair game, looks like the SUVishop bribe is only the tip of the iceberg for GMA to be afforded special protection from church involvement)

Mike Bueza

This just proves how Philippine politicians care more about “public image”, rather than actual performance and public service. Instead of proving people wrong by just getting things done, they involve themselves in more mudslinging.

Tsk tsk tsk…


Nothing new, we’re all standing in a time bomb ladies and gentlemen. If Aquino makes few more ‘wrong’ moves, Philippines is going to spiral out of control for quite some time till we settle down.


Wow… its funny that he can comment on US intelligence gathering… Coming from the leader of a third world country who cant even handle a hostage crisis…

wikileaks exposes not only the disdain and disgust which america really thinks about the philippines, but how much power and control it exercises by either buying off or manipulating 3rd world uneducated politicians when it suits them. of all the leaks none are worse than the help roxas gave the US and its pharmaceutical companies in keeping the prices of drugs high. however much blood money he get will never again be trusted. for his treachery he should be run out of office and the country. how many have died because of his personal greed, and their inability to access… Read more »
wikileaks confirms what the world already knew. – philippines is a lawless society – democracy is a sham – GMA & the Fat Guy are evil crooks – cory aquino was a weak washerwoman, and certainly no icon of democracy! – noynoy aquino is a mummy’s boy with no international respect, no vision, and no cojones – mar roxas sold out the country for his own greed and ego – the US rules through bribes and manipulation of uneducated politicians – the jungle bunnies in senate & congress are a global joke – the corrupt oligarchs, triads, and feudal families… Read more »
Looks like the Government is in DENIAL MODE when the new US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. announced that 40% of male foreign tourist visits the Philippines for sex tours. They even have the gall to ask the US Ambassador to apologize for insulting the philippines and what’s US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr response? PWNAGE United States Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. said he will not make an apology over his remark about prostitution in the country, stressing he was only telling the truth when he issued the statement. Thomas challenged those criticizing him for his remark, including senators,… Read more »