NEWS website Rappler’s release of the transcript of the phone conversation last April 29 between US President Trump and President Duterte—leaked by Yellow moles at the Department of Foreign Affairs—is such an appalling betrayal of our country’s welfare we should be outraged over it.
While Trump praised Duterte profusely for his war against illegal drugs, the US President disclosed such highly classified information as the US having two nuclear submarines with “a lot of firepower” ready to retaliate against North Korea. Because of this, Western media has been in a frenzy over Trump’s revelation of such a military secret, with news outfits all over the world even posting the facsimile of the actual DFA memorandum that had the transcript.
“How can any head of state now talk to your President frankly, when his talk with the world’s most powerful head of state, who has his own strict protocols for confidentiality, was released to the world, word for word?” a high-ranking foreign diplomat rhetorically asked. Because of this leak which became ammo for his many critics, I’m sure Trump will never talk to Duterte again.
Never has such a confidential conversation between heads of state been made public. Even the infamous Wikileaks website managed to disclose only reports written by diplomatic staff, and not transcripts of such confidential talks. Never in our modern history has such a document of the highest level of confidentiality been publicly released.
Even the recent reports by The Washington Post and The New York Times regarding Trump’s controversial remarks in his meeting with Russian diplomats as well as FBI Director James Comey’s memorandum, didn’t contain the actual transcripts or memo, with the two papers reporting that the contents of these were only read to their journalists.
Even the memorandum
By contrast, Rappler and its accomplice the American news website intercept.com even posted the facsimile of the memorandum on the transcript written by acting assistant secretary Marshal Louis M. Alferez of the DFA’s Office of American Affairs. The memorandum was addressed to the undersecretary for civilian security and consular affairs, whom I was told was Ariel Abadilla, through the undersecretary for policy Enrique A. Manalo.
The National Bureau of Investigation or the National Intelligence Coordinating Authority should investigate these officials and everyone who had access to the document—and subject them to lie-detector tests—to find out the source of such an embarrassing leak that has been so damaging to the country. It is a crime: the unauthorized release of government confidential information is penalized with five years of imprisonment under the Civil Service Code. The same penalties are imposed on private individuals involved in such crime.
Rappler editors may have known that the leaking of confidential government information is a crime that it claimed that it didn’t get the transcript directly from the DFA but only through the US-based website The Intercept, which subtitled its report on the Trump-Duterte conversation, “A Call with a Killer”.
This is such a flimsy excuse. The Intercept is financed by E-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar who in 2015 made a substantial investment of about P50 million in Rappler, making the local website a sister company of The Intercept. This American news site even posted the transcript at the same time that Rappler did.
But the egoism of Rappler’s editors is such that they still wanted to get credit for such a scoop: The Intercept’s report had the prominent note “In partnership with Rappler”, with the website’s logo conspicuously displayed (see image).
Rappler thinks we are gullible fools by claiming that The Intercept has such deep, and extensive sources in the Philippines’ foreign affairs department that it could get such a sensitive, and confidential information.
However, the DFA in fact is one government agency that is so conscious of the security of its documents that it routinely attaches the pro-forma cover sheet with the word “CONFIDENTIAL” displayed at its top and bottom to most of its inter-office documents. Only the Office of the President and our national security agencies use such a cover sheet. DFA courses at its Foreign Service Institute have modules devoted solely to the importance of confidentiality and security.
I don’t think even Rappler itself got the document through its sheer investigative skills, which have been mediocre. The DFA is such a security-conscious institution that it takes years, even decades, for a reporter to develop sources in it who would leak confidential information (but never actual documents).
And of course, since even the slightest derogatory information—suspicion of leaking some information to media, for instance—on a staff endangers his or her chance of promotion, and most importantly, of being assigned to a juicy post overseas, the dream of nearly all DFA staff.
So, how did Rappler get that highly classified document that has damaged our country’s reputation? I have my suspicions.
I have gotten several emails from my DFA contacts which allege that former Foreign Secretary and Yellow-Cult hard-core Albert del Rosario has maintained a small core of DFA officials loyal to him—and anti-Duterte—in the department’s headquarters here and abroad. My DFA sources claimed that partly because of these anti-Duterte officials, the department has done practically nothing to correct the country’s image in the West that there have been massive human rights violations because of Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.
Del Rosario appears to have been close to Rappler which has written so many pieces praising him and almost routinely quotes extensively his views that are invariably critical of Duterte’s foreign policy, which he termed a “national tragedy.” Rappler was the only news outfit that reported that del Rosario recommended that then acting foreign secretary Enrique Manalo be appointed permanent DFA head, based on his experience of working with him for five years.
After Alan Cayetano’s appointment as DFA head, Manalo has returned to his post as undersecretary for policy. The memorandum containing the Trump-Duterte transcript was coursed through him.
I’m sure it would be very easy for the NBI—by tracing everyone who had access to the memorandum and subjecting them to lie-detector tests—to determine who leaked the confidential transcript, and to whom.
How can such a weak nation like us that had three American lackeys as presidents in its recent history, reassert its independence from its former colonizer and its Western allies if traitors in the DFA in collusion with the Yellow Cult leak to the world confidential documents?