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?

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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.

52 Replies to “Ambassador Kristie Kenney and the awkwardness of what Wikileaks reveals about the Philippines”

  1. 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

    1. Carandang wasn’t exactly classy either. Here’s what he said:

      “We normally don’t comment on purportedly leaked cables but it’s quite consistent with talk that went on in the diplomatic community at the time that Ambassador Kenney had been co-opted by the Arroyo regime,” he told Agence France-Presse.(Sept 3, 2011)

      Chismoso pa pala siya. He’s no master of spin. He decided to hurl some mud of his own.

      “We try harder” should be the order of the day, imho.

  2. 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 simply cannot stand and accept the Truth. Noynoy Aquino, Del Rosario, Carandang,etc…may tell us a very good picture of our situations. However, they don’t have to tell us anything:We have all eyes to see. Ambassador Kenny is not afraid to speak her mind of the truth regarding the imbecile and lazy President..

  3. 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 the rest of the world.

  4. 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.

      1. again, it’s the “either you’re with us or you’re evil” mentality that their cult is espousing. geez. i thought campaign period’s over.

        the 24 apple laptops have been quite busy lately. teeheehee…

    1. Eh talaga namang tuta yan,d ba alam ni Kenney ang ginawa ni Cory at Noy sa bansa? They make me proud to be pinoy.

      1. The Cory days were great huh? Maybe it was TOO DARK to enjoy anything due to having constant brownouts.

        Enjoying the current Noynoy and former Cory regime?

        Guess the jokes on you then. HAHAHAAH.

        BTW, you can’t be proud of what you didn’t achieve, idiot. You were born a Filipino, much like I was. Hence we both cannot take ‘pride’ in something we were put into. I’ll give you 2/10 for ‘intelligent’ trolling.

      2. @Vincenzo

        Show us some evidence Mr troll. You are not talking to your drinking buddies here.

        What did Cory and Ninoy do? What is the connection with PNoy?

      3. Eh talaga namang tuta yan…

        All claims, no basis as usual.

        Doesn’t make what she said false and Noynoy knows this that’s why he reacted so badly and immaturely. He felt exposed.

      1. Really? How come Imelda, Imee and Bong Bong Marcos still won when they ran for public office? If the Marcoses are really guilty, they should be behind bars, right? Ikaw pala ang *****!

      2. Marcos was a crook because he was pointed as one by media pundits but let’s not go after Cory for her crookery while in office and what her family has done as well because she is well loved by autists like you an everyone else because she bore the ‘Aquino’ name.

        Because only fools are gullible enough to believe Aquino magic and hype, much like everyone with a last name has a label to them.

        Too bad you are circle jerking your way out of this argument, much like anyone who doesn’t have ANYTHING to add except for hearsay and LOL EVIL Marcos. =)))))

      3. Hay, ungas ka talaga Vicenzo. Rebuttal mo wala pang sense.

        Sows, proud ka palang maging ungas. Hay, talaga naman ang ibang pNoys na hindi marunong mag-isip-isip…

      4. alam mo i dont mind kung nangurakot man c marcos, eh ang dami nami nang iniwan nyang lagacy lyk mga public hospitals na pinkinabangan natin kaso nga lang noong nauupo c cory at gumawa cya nang tinatawag APT, kaya binenta yung mga projects bi marcos. actually if u chek the records, marcos accumulated budget for his 20year rule was only 400+ billion of pesos, while cory had more than 1T pesos, tapos wla ka namang makitang proyekto na malaki na para sa bayan. in fact accdg to the books i’v read mas severe ang corruption sa cory admin. just finished reading Neither Trumpets Nor Drums by Doy Laurel, grabe yung mga revelation nya bout cory admin, you read it, it is availabvle at popular bookstore in quezon city. dont bother to look at national bkstore kasi parang hindi naman sila nag bebenta nang mga books na negative ang sinusulat about the aquinos.

    2. Kitang kita naman noong panahon ni satanas Marcos, boycott palagi ang may pusong opposition kasi alam na mandaraya magbasa ka ng history mo unggoy.

      1. I think the word ‘unggoy’ is pointing at you, sir. And sometimes it’s dangerous to study history because it can be BIASED.

        In the words of the great Capt. John Price from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2:

        “History is written by the victor. History is filled with liars. ‘Cause all you need to change the world is one good lie and a river of blood.”

        So yours is more hearsay and most of our history is based on hearsay and conspiracy theories, idiot. 😛

      1. By you criteria, prostitution would have more credibility than ABS CBN. It is a way older and a far more widely practiced profession (or form of entertainment.)

      2. Not really. ABS-CBN ( A BullSh*t Company Broadcasting Nonsense)flourished during Cory’s time and the Lopezes are their allies.

        ABS-CBN was never a Lopez creation. They acquired it through political manipulations and dirty tactics. And now they’re using it as a “pandora’s box” who oppose their oligarchic interests and protect and glorify their protectors Cory and Noynoy Aquino.

        So ABS-CBN just keeps demonizing the Ramos and Arroyo administrations by the Aquinos and their allies, Yellow Zombies like Vincezo Arellano and the biased mainstream media like ABS-CBN.

        I’ll go for GMA7 instead. That’s empty words and platitudes from Aquino apologists. Please state facts for once and not conspiracy theories. Mahilig ka talaga sa ganon. 😛

      1. At least GMA7 was known for their responsible journalism and not demonizing any government unlike the oligarch TV station ABias-CBN.

    3. Oi search mo sa youtube “michael fajatin”, reporter ng GME un. Gnyan pla mga yan, Walang knikilingan, walang pinopropektahan, wala rin Maintindihan!

      1. At wala silang propaganda tulad ng ABias-CBN. So what’s your basis on Michael Fajatin, huh?

        Yet the media who has ties with the Aquinos won’t look critically into their mistakes, if not making light of the current president’s ineptitude. See the bias?

  5. 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

    1. Obviously he hasn’t spent much time online, has he? 🙂 Most anyone else would have said, “Whatever.” A two-year old opinion from someone who isn’t even around any more is not something that should shake anyone up. Unless, of course, that person really is diffident.

      1. Either diffident or there’s nothing else better to do. Imagine that. For a supposedly busy leader of a nation, he even has time to react to this one ( a two-year old opinion from someone who isn’t around). Scary for the Philippines, if you ask me.

  6. 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)

    1. Fidel Ramos aka “Tabako” Wikileak. Binigyan ni Khadafy ng pera…kurakot din ang “good boy”…Khadafy has good records on people whom he gave money to…documents seized by Lybian rebels in Khadafy home…

  7. 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…

  8. 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.

  9. 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…

  10. 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 quality drugs at an affordable price.
    a traitor. simple as that.

  11. 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 want no change
    – there is a great envy of the west without the same style or values
    – the country’s slogan is ‘give me some money’

  12. 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, to show what they have done and what they are doing to stop child prostitution and human trafficking in the Philippines.

    Asked if he will make an apology following the demand of some senators, Thomas categorically stated: “I’m not going to apologize, I’ll leave it alone with them. I’m not going to apologize. I will never apologize for trying to combat child sex. I will never apologize for trying to combat children being forced to labor. I will never apologize for trying to help children in Smokey Mountain,” he added.

    He went on to ask what is offensive in his remark. “Is the statement offensive or is the child sex offensive? And why was it offensive?”

    “If they’re saying that children having sex is offensive, yes; that children being forced to work as maids is offensive, yes; that women and men being trafficked to other countries is offensive, yes. Human trafficking, modern day form of slavery should be offensive to every human being. If that’s what they are saying, I agree to it,” said Thomas, as he made it clear he had no intention of insulting the Philippines.

    The US Ambassador said he was not misquoted in his remark that about 40 percent of foreign male tourists visit the Philippines just for sex. However, he said that he was not quoted in full.

    “What I’ve said – ever since I’ve been here when President Aquino and Secretary (Leila) De Lima came into office – is that any foreigner, particularly an American who is engaged in sex crime should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and we will assist,” Thomas told the Manila Bulletin.

    “I also said . . . that the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) has come here… worked with the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to capture people who are engaged in cyber crimes or pedophilia, that there are people who would come here, who have engaged in sex with underage children and videotape this,” he further stated, adding that while those DVDs have been burned here and in the US, the American government will help prosecute people engaged in such act if they are caught. “And that is why we are training the NBI,” said Thomas.

    “I also said that last year despite claims there were no child prostitutes on Fields Avenue, Angeles City, that we were working with Visayan Forum and NBI and we were able to rescue over a hundred children who are working as child prostitutes,” he went on to say.

    The US envoy said he has on the wall of his residence in Makati self portraits made by young girls who are trafficked. “And they show what they have to do, dress up as woman, how they were wounded, their limbs, how a salesman of dirty ice cream lured them,” said Thomas, as he emphasized “that this scourge should be eliminated.”

    As he explained his side, Thomas went on to say: “What I wonder is why anyone who drives through Malate late at night, anyone who goes to Fields Avenue or parts of Cebu would question the fact that these places exist.”

    At the same time, he also praised the people of Cebu saying, “our international justice mission works very well down there, that is a model city in terms of how the clergy, the prosecutors, the police, the government works together… to prosecute traffickers” and also help put some of the women from poor villages into universities for them to get proper education.

    “Everybody wants to ostracize me, get angry over a quote. But where are they? These are their fellow citizens? So i would like to ask them, what are you doing to stop children being trafficked? If they don’t believe it exists, show me,” said Thomas.

    “What are they doing to stop children working as laborers, we know that there are many communities in Manila and other cities where children work as child maids, are they closing their eyes to that? I’m an American, these are Filipinos. Why would they allow their children to be trafficked for sex or labor? They turn a blind eye to it,” he added.

    On reactions that his statement was an insult to the country, Thomas said: “Why would I try to insult the Philippines, I’m just telling the truth… and those over a hundred girls that we rescued last year are living proof of that. Where were they when we rescued them? I would like to know. This is something we feel very serious about,” said Thomas.

    1. Only pedophiles and those involved in the sex trade are the ones truly benefiting from its denial.

      Hiding incompetence, moral decadence, and shortcomings by punishing the good is becoming such a glaring cultural trait of Filipino society.

      No amount of clothing or adornment could conceal the stench of the rotting corpse hidden underneath them. There comes a point where Pinoys should stop being yellow with cowardice and admit their own mistakes–can’t hide these things any longer.

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