US official disguised as a protesting European?
WE should be outraged at the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s banner story yesterday, with its huge photo of Caucasians holding up mini-placards of “Stop the killings” and “Stop silencing dissent!”.
What is worrying though—over which our government should file a diplomatic protest—is that one of the seven supposedly “European” parliamentarians protesting the alleged killings by the Duterte administration, is actually an American government official, Thomas O. Melia, assistant administrator for Europe and Asia of the US government’s Agency for International Development. Is it now US official policy to destabilize this government through allegations of human rights violations?
We have lost all sense of nationalism and integrity as an independent people if we are not angry at the PDI’s front page. It insults our country on three levels.
Firstly, we should be mad at such a brazen interference in our domestic affairs. We are a sovereign country with our own Constitution, our own body of laws. What right do these Europeans have to meddle in our affairs, when we obviously still have the rule of law.
Have they meddled over the US invasion of Iraq; over the hundreds of Muslims kidnapped by the US and tortured in their Guantanamo fortress, many kept nearly a decade without charges; over alleged genocide of the Rohingya in Burma; or even over the ruthless police brutality in their continent, in Catalonia?
What’s shocking is that these foreigners in the PDI photo don’t even represent their countries, and don’t have any substantial European constituency. They are mostly small-time but noisy NGO activists in their countries.
They are the equivalent here of Akbayan’s Walden Bello, the Nationalist Alliance for Democracy’s Joel Portillo, or Bayan Muna’s Teddy Casiño.
Those in the photo who are of such NGO types are Benjamin Maxfield of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Giacomo Filibeck, Deputy Secretary General of the Party of European Socialists, Conny Reuter of the European activist network Solidar, and Progressive Alliance’s Constantin Woinoff.*(Ever heard of those groups? Of course not.)
There are only two parliamentarians in the group, the equivalent here of Magdalo representative Gary Alejano or Bayan Muna’s Carlos Zarate.
You’d quickly realize the absurdity of these Europeans having such photo-ops holding placards that insult the nation, by imagining Bello, Portillo, or Casiño in Burma protesting the human rights violations of Myanmar.
There is one figure in the photo who is not even European, but is a dark figure really: US AID assistant administrator Melia, whose identity was concealed when he was identified as a “senior adviser to the International and Exchange Board,” a US-based NGO.
He is the jerk in the photo (at the top row, leftmost) holding that mini-placard “Stop Silencing Dissent!” The Philippines is silencing dissent when one of its biggest broadsheets has a photo of an American holding a mini-placard making that allegation?
There have been many allegations that US AID has been an instrument of the US government’s intervention in sovereign nations. One proven case was revealed in 2014, when several respected news outfits reported that the US AID run, as the Associated Press dispatch described it, “a Cuban Twitter to undermine Cuba’s communist government and get around its strict Internet prohibitions, using secret shell companies financed through foreign banks.”
Is Melia now running a Philippine operation?
Secondly, we should be outraged at the modern-day Makapilis who are betraying our country by telling lies about the administration’s war against illegal drugs, and helping foreigners portray the nation as one where blood is flooding the streets.
The person at the center of the photo is obviously not a European, but Rep. Tom Villarin, who is representing in Congress the ‘pink’ party-list Akbayan, of which Sen. Risa Hontiveros is a leader.
It was Akbayan which organized the event, made the mini-placards, and invited the press. It was a propaganda project to paint a false picture that all of Europe is protesting human rights violations in the country.
Thirdly, we should be outraged at the , which put the huge photo in its front page that in effect sent a message that the world “international groups” are now protesting against the Duterte government. Why would they help foreigners who lie about the Philippines—“Stop silencing dissent”?—so much media space?
That is so dishonest and unpatriotic of the PDI. Why would it publish on its front page such a huge photo of small-time, obscure European politicians bad-mouthing the country, who are ignored by the press in their own countries but which it portrayed as representatives of Europe? Among the dozen major broadsheets and tabloids, only PDI did so.
*How could I identify them? The Party of European Socialists reported the event complete with pictures in its website (see photo).