THE so-called “career diplomats’ statement” asking for Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano’s resignation was such a skillfully crafted and placed fake news.
Two of my esteemed colleagues in this newspaper, among the best columnists I know, and a few others in other papers even fell for it, extensively quoting it yesterday in their columns as if that anonymous statement was really the sentiment of current “career diplomats.”
The reality is that the statement was really from a tiny group in the department of not more than a half a dozen officials, which has been there since President Arroyo’s time, recently re-mobilized by the Yellows.
It is another indication of my rising suspicion that with President Duterte appearing to be a Teflon president, the Yellow Cult is on a new tack, which is to focus on and force out of office those who have been loyal to him, as soon as they perceive some weakness they can exploit.
How could the Philippine Star and other journalists believe that the anonymously authored statement represented the views of even just three “career diplomats”? I don’t hesitate to quote an unnamed “source” saying this or that. But to quote “career diplomats,” which implies that the statement represents the views of over 500 officers and staff in 69 diplomatic posts?
While the success of this fake news in being believed even by veteran journalists is a wake-up call for Cayetano that he isn’t being impressive in his job, to say the least, or that his “public diplomacy officers” (i.e., PR men) are incompetent, we have to expose vigorously this “career diplomats” garbage for what it is: the revival of the group of Yellows in the foreign affairs department.
‘Career diplomats’ cabal
President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s former foreign secretary Alberto del Rosario, I was told, had showered his largesse on these conspirators, which is the reason they laid low under his watch. I was told he continues to see them occasionally.
The advantage I have that my colleagues don’t have is that I am familiar with the tactics of this “career diplomats” cabal, as it was very active during President Arroyo’s term, very regularly issuing the kind of statements issued by the leftist fronts and Yellow cultists against her, even on issues that didn’t really concern them. The group was a big headache for the then foreign secretary Alberto Romulo, and it played a big role in his ouster by Aquino in 2011. I was even on the brink of uncovering who these few diplomats were.
One effective technique to disseminate fake news, or even legitimate but explosive news, is to — counter-intuitively — release it only to one reporter. His or her ego bloated over having such an “exclusive,” that reporter would write the fake news with a passion, and other reporters would pursue the news – after being bawled out by their editors for being ‘scooped’.
This DFA cabal released its fake statement only to the Philippine Star, through its veteran foreign affairs reporter Pia Lee-Brago, which was headlined “Career diplomats want Cayetano, aides to resign.”
This cowardly group has apparently developed Brago as their outlet, as it was the same reporter who had another recent “exclusive,” that Cayetano and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello had a shouting match over the Kuwait issue, which the DFA and the labor department flatly denied as happening. (During Arroyo’s term, it was the Malaya columnist and veteran foreign affairs reporter Ellen Tordesillas whom they extensively used. Apparently, they now feel that Tordesillas has lost her audience, that they needed a newer loudspeaker.)
In 2005, in a similar manner, this same gang used the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, whose article had an eerily similar title as the Philippine Star item the other day: “RP diplomats raise howl,” claiming that the Arroyo presidency was “illegitimate.”
The real association of DFA diplomats, the Association of Foreign Service Officers (UNIFORS), vehemently denied that it ever released such a statement, pointing out that “it is the practice of our members to identify themselves by name in any public declaration on any issue.”
After that, and to spite the UNIFORS, the clique referred to themselves as UNIFFORS, with the double “FF” to refer to “Union of Filipino Foreign Affairs Officers,” which effectively confused people that of the group with the genuine association of foreign affairs officials. It even set up a blog www. uniffors.com which was a receptacle for anti-Arroyo blogs.
The Philippine Star article pointed out in its very second sentence: “Although the officers did not refer to the UNIFORS as the organization of career diplomats behind the letter, DFA officials learned it was sent to Duterte asking for the resignation of Cayetano and his appointees in the department.”
Not by UNIFORS
That was very clever of this cabal. While saying the statement is not by UNIFORS, so the association will not have a basis to deny it, it gave readers the impression that it was indeed the statement of career diplomats. The DFA issued a statement yesterday claiming that the Office of the President reported to them that it had received no such statement.
One motivation of this revived “UNIFFORS,” arises from their anger against officials brought into the department from the outside, hence its emphasis that they are “career diplomats.” Such enmity of course is understandable as such officials brought from the outside – either as ambassadors or department officials – get the juicy posts that should be given to them as career officials.
Thus, the clique’s fake news put the blame for the Kuwait episode on the DFA undersecretary for migrant workers affairs Sarah Lou Arriola, Cayetano’s legal eagle that he brought into the department. (Arriola has a masters in international human rights law from the University of Essex and is a law professor at the Ateneo.)
Yet the “statement” was silent on the role in the Kuwait episode of career diplomats Raul Dado and Elmer Cato. Dado is the undersecretary for migrant workers affairs who supervised the Kuwait Embassy’s rescue teams. Cato on the other hand is the DFA spokesman who circulated the rescue video to DFA reporters.
That the group is really of the Yellow Cult becomes incontrovertible from one of the claims they made in their statement as quoted in the Philippine Star: “Many career diplomats were disappointed as Cayetano’s lack of foresight and wisdom are also glaring on other foreign policy issues such as the West Philippine Sea, withdrawal of International Criminal Court membership, rejection of European Union (EU) aid and UN human rights.”
But Cayetano’s stance on these foreign affairs issues did not originate from him, but from the so-called “principal architect” of our foreign policy, President Duterte.
Cayetano lacks “foresight and wisdom” because he implemented Duterte’s non-confrontational stance with China and by debunking the lies the Yellows spread in the European Union and in the UN? He should have followed instead the Yellows‘ preference for being the US proxy against China in the region and to echo their lies to the EU and UN over numerous human rights violations in the country?