Table Talk : Haste makes waste PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 22 September 2012 13:48

BY Mike S Apostol

Senator Antonio Trillanes’ clandestine “backroom” negotiation with China on the disputed Scarborough Shoal that triggered a rift with Senate President Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is perceived by many experienced negotiators as “done in haste”. Unlike in a kidnap-for-ransom situation, where the victim is to die at a given time and hour, the negotiator has to act and decide swiftly. The Scarborough Shoal dispute with China and the Philippines, although both nations’ armed navies are at a standstill for many weeks and ready for a limited battle, but, there is no eminent invasion from China or China already occupied the shoal, that needed a swift action and decision by a special envoy as negotiators fully authorized to act for the country. It is unclear why President PNoy assigned Trillianes as a special envoy, when the negotiations on the diplomatic channels are already on-going.

President Aquinom although a veteran legislator, being a former senator and a congressman, but admittedly he is a young and neophyte president who needed the counsel of a veteran and seasoned foreign policy implementer and not one who is also a neophyte in foreign policy and relations like Trillanes, who maybe an expert in a “cloak and dagger” operation. Negotiating with a foreign country is far different from a domestic and internal misunderstanding with government by restless soldiers and officers, because it has far reaching effect to both countries. Needless to say even simple protocol in dealing with other nations has a worldwide effect. Senator Trillianes might have an “ace” in his sleeves for the negotiation, that is why he volunteered to be a “backroom negotiator”, but at least he should have realized that “man should know his limits” because this is not a case of “obey first before you complain”.
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There is enough room and ample time for the diplomatic channels to find ways and means for a  “win-win “ solution as what Former President Fidel Ramos always advised his restless cabinet, soldiers and his local government units during his incumbency and it worked efficiently. To device a different clandestine approach that deals with sovereignty is not only a problem of the President or Senate and the Congress, but the whole Filipino Nation. To assign one Filipino to talk for the nation basing his actions and decisions on a Presidential Authority breaching protocol and belligerently hiding that authority from the people’s representative for approval, like the Senate is “conduct unbecoming” even in the military establishment.     
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Authority and tradition are two different things and the biggest difference is you can, legislate authority but you can never legislate tradition. Senator Trillianes might have authority as a senator of the country, but certainly his arrogance and highhandedness in the manner he answers questions from a senior member of the Senate and the answers to questions from the media during interviews is viewed as bad manners and disrespect, a norm that is supposed to be taught by parents at home following Filipino tradition of “respect to your elders”.
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If indeed what Senator Trillianes is doing today in this latest “fiasco” of his “backroom negotiations” is actually part of the order from his Presidential Authority as a special envoy of the country to China, President Aquino III may not have known the after effect of his “hastily done assignment” and the damage done to the country might be costlier than the price of the Scarborough Shoal.
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Scoop: “In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed is the king”. So goes an old saying in the field of marketing and sales. Agree or disagree.