Loose tweets can sink a ship of state
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-11-04
“Loose lips sink ships” was an all too familiar warning during World War II. During the war, the US armed forces spelled out 10 specific guidelines for American servicemen to follow when they wrote home to their friends and loved ones. These 10 “Loose lips sink ships” guidelines warned GIs not to provide such information in their letters as to the whereabouts of army units, military installations, transportation facilities, convoys and their routes, ports, schedules, battle casualties and so forth.

The recent faux pas of Assistant Communications Secretary and Presidential Speechwriter Carmen “Mai” Mislang during the Vietnam State Visit and ASEAN Summit, which was attended by President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy), can be considered a case of loose tweets that almost bored a serious hole on our ship of state.

Mislang had posted on Twitter that during the official banquet hosted by Vietnam President Nguyen Minh Triet in honor of P-Noy — “the wine SUCKS!” She also said in Filipino: “Sorry, there are no handsome men here.” If those were not enough insults to their hosts, Mislang also posted that: “Crossing the speedy motorcycle laden streets of Hanoi is one of the easiest ways to die.”

Adding insult to the injury inflicted by Mislang was the equally stupid attempt of Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang to dismiss the incident as a minor issue.

Carandang was quoted: “She has been one of the hardest working people in our office. She’s trusted by the President and this is just a minor issue. So I don’t think it’s going to become anything more. As far as we are concerned, tapos na ‘yun. Nawala na ‘yun (It’s over. The issue is gone.). She’s being more careful now.”

Our STAR colleague Boo Chanco had been very supportive of Carandang ever since the former ABS-CBN TV correspondent became Communications Secretary. However, on this Mai Mislang issue, Boo took exception.

On Facebook, Boo posted (with minor corrections on non-capitalized letters of starting sentences): “Ricky Carandang is wrong. This is not a minor thing. People who represent us abroad must not embarrass us. This is a firing offense. At the very least, it shows ill breeding because we have been taught by our parents to be extra polite when in other people’s homes or in this case, country. The use of new technology still requires old fashioned manners, especially if you are a public official. P-Noy must require all members of his party in future state visits to undergo a pre-departure orientation by the DFA. Idiotic behavior like this must not happen again.”

How can it be considered a minor issue to insult an ASEAN major power like Vietnam which could easily overrun our armed forces if we were at war with them? How can it be considered a minor issue to insult Vietnam which also happens to be a claimant like the Philippines to the energy resources in the South China Sea?

Desperately trying to invent a role to be able to get its finger on the contested oil and gas in the South China Sea, even the US saw it fit to engage Vietnam in the effort to keep China in check. Taking our cue from the US, who are we to insult the Vietnamese? Hey! We do not even have China on our side and yet we have factotums like Mislang who insult the Vietnamese.

Many Filipinos expressed their angry reactions in the various media response sections, social networking sites and the many internet blog sites. There is really no excuse for Mislang to say those things, especially the insult to the wine served during the state banquet hosted by the Vietnam President. Mislang is lucky that the Vietnam President is self assured and did not make an official reaction. If that was the pompous Donald Tsang of Hong Kong hosting the banquet, Mislang and P-Noy would never hear the end of Tsang’s tart reactions.

It was simply idiotic for Mislang to have overlooked that her being an Assistant Communications Secretary, Presidential Speechwriter and member of the Official Philippine Delegation could be separated from her Twitter postings and personal opinions. Even if she was just a civilian who was allowed to tag along, she cannot apologize enough for insulting their Vietnamese hosts.

“Ill breeding” was a comment that you would read several times from the many angry reactions posted on Facebook and the internet blog sites. James Cordova of the Asian Correspondent website commented that P-Noy was surrounded by “juveniles” and that unless P-Noy agrees with Mislang — then she should not be holding such a sensitive position in the administration.

Mislang should be reminded of the fact that, as a nation, we Filipinos do not hold a candle to the Vietnamese who have defeated two world major powers — France and the US — in war and is now outpacing us in economic development. To this day, we Filipinos are so pathetic because we do not even know how we are still being manipulated by foreign powers like the US.

If P-Noy is serious about his historic agenda, then he should disassociate his administration from these people whom he may be personally “comfortable” with but are plagued with the dangerous affliction of foot in mouth disease.

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  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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