Envoys queuing up to meet MILF head

It didn’t take too long for President Aquino’s meeting with Moro Islamic Liberation Front chieftain Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo—originally intended as a dramatic achievement for the State of the Nation speech—to unravel as one of his biggest blunders so far. In an insult to the President, as it ignored totally his “historic” meet last August 5 with Murad, the MILF ended the talks August 29, a day before its scheduled end, practically with a walkout.

The fallout from Aquino’s misstep had started earlier. Making Aquino’s meeting with the rebel chief as an excuse, the Japanese ambassador to the Philippines Toshinao Urabe, with his political affairs minister and other ranking embassy officials, trooped on Aug. 18  to the MILF headquarters in Maguindanao to meet  with Murad and other central committee members.


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Middle East Unpreparedness Team

IN DECEMBER 2002, or a decade go, when the US invasion of Iraq was imminent, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo organized the Philippine Middle East Preparedness Committee under Executive Order No. 159. Its functions though went beyond the Iraq crisis, and was based on the appreciation of the fact that more than a million of our citizens were working in Middle East countries, which for various reasons (as in the case of the Iraq war) could suddenly become a hostile place for them.

She gave the committee enormous powers, and its main function is exactly, eerily, what is needed now: “[It] shall, in relation with the critical developments in the Middle East, prepare the appropriate responses, formulate policies, develop modes for coordination, put into effect all plans approved by the President and monitor their implementation accordingly, in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs.”


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