Culture and the build, build, build strategy

Today on GMA’s 24 Oras were featured potholes on asphalted sections of EDSA, newly-damaged from the recent habagat rain. DPWH personnel who were interviewed cited as cause “heavy and frequent vehicular usage of the national highway”. My god. Who do they think believe the crap they say?

The reasoning is in stark contrast to the national strategy in this sector which is build, build, build and people would like to believe that quality is inherent in this strategy, because who is the government that would build, build, build houses out of sticks? But, that’s what DPWH frontliners are effectively communicating: the asphalt roads they built, built, built could easily be blown off by a mere few breaths of a medium-sized wolf of a habagat.

Pinoys here need to cast off their pwede na mindset once and for all. Quality work should be a habit not an act. If we continue with pwede na, this country will never attain the desired level of progress even with the right development strategies in place.

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But who sets culture? When ‘HR’ at the organization I was working had been changed to ‘People and Culture’ following the trend internationally, we wondered what in the world does it mean? How is HR the right “person” to manage culture or even set the culture? We were right, eventually. The lesson learned was,

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Similarly, when quality in roadworks is not set and demanded as a standard by DPWH managers, then it’s personnel and vendors that will dictate the result which could be anything. When DPWH managers go by the same inane reasoning of their staff, then woe to the nation. When they sign off on vendor payments, salaries, and wages despite non-delivery of contract provisions, then woe to taxpayers. As managers, they are responsible for the result – the brand – that the agency is reputed for.

What then is the right fit of people – managers, supervisors – that DPWH ought to hire into its build, build, build strategy? I suggest that the agency go back to its hiring mantra and practices and make changes.

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On the handshake

Finally! The world today needs more of this– willingness to lay down power in order to establish common ground toward universal good. Today’s long-awaited gesture renews hope in governments and human communities everywhere.

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On the “ouster” of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno

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I don’t understand the hullabaloo over the “ouster” of Sereno as Chief Justice, which, thanks to media, is perceived by the general public as a “decidedly manipulative” move of the current administration. Well, bad news people the “ouster” isn’t wrong, not in the way you thought it.

In this country, the position of Chief Justice is an appointed position by no less than the President. On that note, if I’m appointed into a position, more so if it’s the highest and most coveted in my industry, I’d feel beholden to the person (or, committee) who appointed me. I’d feel very grateful toward that person. I’d bless that person every minute of my waking day. I’d swear loyalty to the person (even to his or her kin) who has power over my appointment. The dynamic, on the whole, mimics the relationship between creature and Creator. This is the nature of appointments.

On the other hand, if the person who appointed me is leaving the organization or moving away, I’d expect him or her to be responsible enough to discuss with me (including HR) my future with the organization. Does my appointment still stand, is it still valid, when he or she leaves? If not…well, these details should’ve been spelled out and mutually agreed on right from the start. Like, a prenup agreement. In the absence of a written agreement or specifics to that matter, the appointment is valid only until the term (or, whim) of the appointing party. Afterward, appointees are subject to the will of the wind.

In that situation, I won’t wait for when I’m told to my face to get out for lack of provision on continuity. I’d be proactive about it and go, grateful for the opportunity, deserving of it or not, to have been trusted with the position at all.

Sereno is an appointee of former President Noynoy Aquino who’s not exactly chummy with the current one (at least that’s what we know). Sereno, obviously, isn’t either.

Following the nature of appointments, the incumbent President has the prerogative to make his own set of appointments which as early cues have indicated doesn’t include Sereno. Solicitor General Calida’s accusation that Sereno didn’t comply with JBC’s requirements is moot given that it’s sufficient that the incumbent President by himself rescind or terminate his predecessor’s appointments which he does not honor or does not see serving the goals of his administration.

The real hullabaloo surrounding Sereno then should be about, (a) how come it is made to appear that Sereno is ousted by the current administration, (b) how come that Congress tagged along too justifying it’s involvement by Sereno’s lack of compliant SALNs, (c) how come that esteemed UP people wete too quick to launch #BabaeAko campaign implying that the case is a gender, and most confounding of all, (d) how come that Sereno played along with what apparently is a simple game of round robin? What do these strange bedfellows make of the Filipino nation by this – if I may call it – prank?

If there’s anybody who should be called in to enlighten the nation of why it deserved a Sereno, that would have to be the one who made the appointment. And, if there’s anybody who should be called in to enlighten the nation of why it doesn’t anymore deserve a Sereno, that would have to be the one who is presently making the appointments. These two should at least have the balls to proactively make a stand for their choices. The rest need to shut up.

Yet, the most crucial issue remains: why is the position of Chief Justice a mere appointment? Is this inscribed in the Constitution? Well, it is stupid. Foolish. And it doesn’t make sense. It’s inconsistent for the Constitution to say that the person in the position is unimpeachable when she is an appointee. How would an appointee, who owes her job and position not to hard work but to somebody who has favored her with it, imbibe the objectivity of Lady Justice? The people shouldn’t even expect it. How could her co-Justices, who are not appointees but are there as a result of hard work, not resent her appoinment? How would a Supreme Court that’s headed by a Presidential appointee and divided because of this truly fulfill it’s role as an institution independent of the Executive Office?

These are the real issues that continue to eat at the country, which media, if it’s still in it’s right mind, ought to make news of.

To be truly independent, and unimpeachable, the Chief Justice ought to come to the position through objective and fair means, a point system perhaps showing beyond doubt that he or she is the most deserving among his or her peers. Or, actually why not have the CJ elected in keeping with the two branches of government wherein the elect are accountable to the people (although we’re also having problems with this concept). Then, every good and persistent lawyer out there has a fighting chance. Then, Chief Justices are the products of a rational system rather than of politics gone wrong.

A Radically Different Imaginative Landscape — Watershed Discipleship

Following my earlier post on the proposed National Bible Day, here is an excellent way to put biblical teachings into action (which the country needs more of), in keeping with the call to preserve biodiversity:

I learned about watershed discipleship while hanging out with some Mennonites about a year ago… the proponents of watershed discipleship invite Christians to become “disciples” who emphasize and attend to specific “bioregions,” that is, watersheds. The term “watershed” simply designates the reality that every region is attached to complex, interconnected sources of water, which shape the surrounding region. Watershed discipleship is taking seriously the unique context (cultural, biological, etc.) in which discipleship takes place… What does the particular community surrounding your watershed think about time? What seasons or events are significant to that particular region? What kind of people must we be to care well for our watershed? And what kind of spaces are appropriate to our watershed (i.e. do we really need another parking lot or do we need a green space populated with beneficial plant life?)? Finally, how does being a people who all depend upon the same source of water resist and finally unravel the idea of anonymity?…

Perhaps we will find our own unique way to be disciples in our watershed, disciples who take seriously the call to grow our roots deep into the soil of the city to which we’ve been called.

via A Radically Different Imaginative Landscape — Theology Forum

On International Biodiversity Day: SEARICE Statement for the CSO Consultation on the Right to Food

I’m not a farmer, but my work constantly brings me to them (or, them to my awareness). I feel for them, especially the small farmers. They’re among the most under-appreciated and least supported of this country’s producers. But, visualizing the food chain with ourselves as top consumers, I also feel for myself, that is, the quality of food available for my intake, given that I rely on others to grow a large portion or all of my daily food. And, of course, for my children and the quantity and quality of food available to them growing up and in the future.

If and when farmers do not, fail, or stop growing food…can you imagine living off on canned and injected processed goods three meals a day the entire year (or, even, a lifetime)? Can we imagine this country finally possessing a complete arsenal of machinery that could destroy the world but with people that are emaciated, wasting, and sickly because of lack of adequate nutritious food?

Food, then, particularly it’s quality and availability, grown locally, basic to the survival of 100M Filipinos and counting, should be on the top priorities of the Philippine government. We’re unlike our food-importing ASEAN neighbors Singapore or Brunei in land capacity. Relative to these countries, this country has comparative advantage in local food production hence should not be signed away. I understand the need to strike a balance in investments, but the situation right now is that although foreign investors are small in number this 10% already owns 80% of the food production. The rest is a mine field populated by various local players in a shark-eats-shark competition for the market. This and we’ve not yet mentioned who owns the land. What this country need to do away with right now is monopoly and oligopoly and start embracing healthy competition and aligned to it, biodiversity.

The following Statement by SEARICE was issued in 2015 and reinstated here today as the same proposal has yet to be responded to by duty bearers:

Seeds are the source of food and livelihood of small farmers. Small food producers like the farmers, especially in developing countries, operate within an informal seed system. Farmers save, re-use and exchange seeds with other farmers, and this has sustained their agricultural production and contributed to crop diversity ever since agriculture begun.

We emphasize the direct contribution of biodiversity to food security, nutrition and well-being. It provides a variety of food sources of a range of nutritional requirements, and provides a safety net to vulnerable households in times of crisis. Diverse farming systems contribute to more diverse diets to communities that produce their own food, thus improving nutrition, and providing solutions to malnutrition.

We wish to build on this universal context of the farmer seed system and its vital role in ensuring agricultural biodiversity which is recognized by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). Likewise, we support the recommendations of the former Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter in his Final report: The transformative potential of the right to food. We give particular attention to the general recommendations of the said Report on which we are able to put forward specific recommendations drawn from our site-specific experiences in engaging with farmer organizations and networks from CSOs and government agencies at the local, national and international level.

State Obligation to Protect, Promote and Fulfill the Right to Food and the Implementation of Farmers’ Rights.

Outside of the UN system, the attributes of the informal seed system of farmers have been translated into formal legal entitlement through the Farmers’ Rights provided under the ITPGRFA. These rights are: right to equitably participate in sharing benefits; participation in decision-making; protection of traditional knowledge; and the right to use save and exchange seeds. However, these rights only relate to the plant genetic resources, and their implementation is left to the national governments of the contracting parties with no specific provisions under the Treaty on the remedies in case of its violation. It was noted that “these so-called farmers’ ‘rights’ remain rights without remedies: they are rights only by name. The provision remains vague, and implementation of this provision is highly uneven across the States parties. This is in sharp contrast with the enforcement, at international level, of plant breeders’ rights and biotech-industry patents. Furthermore, there exists no forum in which the implementation of farmers’ rights in various settings is discussed, in order to provide benchmarks and examples of good practices which Governments could seek inspiration from.

We therefore recommend the immediate signing of the proposed Executive Order PROVIDING FOR THE COLLECTION, CHARACTERIZATION, CONSERVATION, PROTECTION, AND SUSTAINABLE USE OF PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFORE AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. The proposed draft was drawn from the 2-year-long meetings and consultations with key stakeholders. It provides among others that the Department of Agriculture, with the participation of relevant government agencies, farmers’ organizations and other stakeholders, shall conduct a review of laws, policies, rules and, regulations relating to plant genetic resources, including seed regulations, to determine if they are consistent with Farmers’ Rights and recommend such actions as may be needed to amend or modify them. The review shall include recommendations on how to address violations of Farmers’ Rights, including the imposition of penalties. This will actualize the state commitment to implement the Farmers’ Rights at the national level and it will set into motion the review of existing policies that runs contrary or is not supportive of the protection of farmers’ rights. Moreover, it will be consistent with the call for the swift implementation of farmers’ rights.

At the local level, local governments units (LGUs) promoting sustainable agriculture through adoption of organic farming practices, establishment of seed banks to conserve and manage farmer-bred and traditional seed varieties for local food security should be promoted by the national government. These practices enhance the functioning of the farmer seed system, thereby ensuring the availability, accessibility, and adequacy of seeds. Ultimately, it ensures the agricultural biodiversity and food security of the local communities. Municipalities like Arakan and Clarin in Mindanao and Calasiao, Pangasinan in Luzon have invariably drafted local ordinances that support and institutionalize farmers’ rights and the accompanying support system for their realization such as proposal to establish seed banks and seed registry for farmer-bred varieties and traditional varieties.

Promoting Innovations and Incentives on Plant breeding and the De Facto Exclusion of Farmers.

The Philippine Plant Variety Protection Act of 2002 (Republic Act No. 9168) provides protection to new plant varieties in the Philippines, as part of the country’s compliance with its commitments under the WTO-TRIPS. It follows the same requirements for protection, terms of protection, and scope of breeders’ rights as the UPOV 1991 Act, but differs in that it provides for a non-optional exception in favor of the traditional right of small farmers to save, use, exchange, share or sell their farm produce of a protected variety (with certain exceptions and conditions), a gene trust fund, and a community registry, among others.

A Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) on the specific provision[7] of PVP Act of 2002, which is very similar to UPOV 91, indicated the following results:

  1. It could negatively impact the functioning of the informal seed system. Its restrictions on the use, exchange and sale of farm-saved PVP seeds would severely affect the positive linkage between the formal and informal seed systems, and make it harder for resource-poor farmers to access improved seeds. Moreover, selling seeds (including those protected by PVP laws) is an important source of income for many farmers. From a human rights perspective, restrictions on the use, exchange and sale of protected seeds could therefore adversely affect the right to food, as seeds might become either more costly or harder to access.
  2. Restrictions on the use, exchange and sale of farm-saved seeds might lead to fewer options for farmers, who then become increasingly dependent on the formal seed sector. Improved varieties, however, often require more inputs compared to local farmers’ varieties, pushing up production costs. In the case of varieties protected in line with UPOV 91, seed costs drive up production expenses even further. From a human rights perspective, higher production costs pose a risk to cash-strapped farmers by destabilising their household budget. This could negatively impact a range of human rights, by reducing the amount of household income available for food, healthcare or education.
  3. Furthermore, there have been indications that several UPOV-related provisions could undermine other public interest policies and processes by negatively impacting the state’s ability to comply with other international legal obligations (for example under the Convention on Biological Diversity or the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture) or national policies.
  4. In conclusion, the research provides clear evidence on potential human rights impacts and further areas of concern that should be carefully considered when designing and implementing PVP laws. The findings of the impact assessment showed (i) strong dependence of small-scale farmers on informal seed systems in developing countries, (ii) the threat to the enjoyment of the right to food when access to seeds of protected varieties is restricted, and (iii) the increasing malfunctioning of the informal seed system as the result of stringent laws including UPOV 91-style PVP laws on seeds

Relevant recommendations of the study to the Philippine Government are as follows:

  • undertake an HRIA before drafting a national PVP law or before agreeing to or introducing intellectual property provisions in trade and investment agreements in the area of agriculture;
  • improve the linkages between the formal and informal seed systems and apply a differentiated approach to PVP for different users and different crops;
  • ensure that governments abide by a transparent and participatory process that includes all potentially affected stakeholders when drafting, amending or implementing PVP laws and related measures;
  • inform government agencies and others involved in seed policy about their obligations concerning the right to food;
  • identify what accompanying measures may be necessary for new PVP-related laws, and implement them, including measures to mitigate and remedy any potential adverse impacts of the PVP-related laws on human rights or on the informal seed sector;
  • monitor the impact of PVP laws on the right to food, with particular attention to ways in which PVP-related laws or policies impact different segments of the population.

Quality Seeds for Farmers through Seed Certification. The Seed Industry Development Act of 1992 (Republic Act No. 7308) seeks to promote and accelerate the development of the seed industry, including the conservation, preservation and development of PGRs of the Philippines. A key policy objective of this law is to promote the development of quality seeds and encourage private breeding through incentives. Seeds to be certified as “quality seeds” have to undergo the certification process, the cost of which is prohibitive for small farmer-breeders for the testing of the varieties that they have bred. This was aired by farmer-breeders during the Farmer-Breeder Conference conducted by SEARICE last December 2014.

A farmers group in Calasiao, Pangasinan, on the other hand, lamented that even though they have produced surplus of local varieties that they have bred and developed, the local government could not procure the seeds that they have produced since there is a standing government guideline to procure only certified seeds, otherwise, it will be disallowed by government auditor. Thus, this has the effect of de facto exclusion of farmers from market access and to the incentives provided under the law, and ultimately, on their economic right to livelihood and their right to food in the context of having means to access it.

Although we find it commendable that the Department of Agriculture came out with a Guideline on the Implementation of Community-Seed Banks, which recognize an equivalent quality control for seeds produced by farmers, we recommend the review and/or amendment of existing seed certification laws/standards to incorporate and allow for local (i.e. provincial or regional) mechanisms to recognize and certify farmer-developed rice varieties.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and Food Availability and Access:

  1. FARMERS’ ACCESS TO TRADITIONAL VARIETIES DIMINISH: In the Philippines, the introduction of GMO crop like Bt Corn has significantly reduced the availability of and access of farmers to various conventional or traditional varieties. In Candon City, Ilocos Sur, most corn farmers are using Bt Corn because this is the only available variety in the market. Farmers claimed that they are having difficulties in finding the usual conventional and native varieties that they plant in their farms.
  2. LIMITED INFORMATION ABOUT GMOs: Farmers have little or no information about the GMO crops that they are planting. In the Philippines, there are farmers who claimed that they don’t know that Bt Corn is a genetically modified variety or what GMOs are in general. They were only informed that Bt Corn is a new variety that will address pest control problems, particularly the corn borer.
  3. FARMERS COULD NO LONGER SHARE OR EXCHANGE SEEDS TO OTHER FARMERS: Sharing and exchanging seeds among farmers have been a universal practice among farmers for centuries as part of the cultural and traditional knowledge of farming communities. With GM crops replacing native or traditional varieties in the market, farmers can no longer share or exchange seeds because GM crops are protected by patents.

We recommend the following:

  1. Review EO 430 and the Philippine Bio-safety Guidelines. The mandate of the NCBP, emanating from EO 430, should be reviewed. The leadership role played by the DOST in this policymaking body should be re-considered in view of the fact that the agency’s flagship programs are centered on modern biotechnology. The National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP) has not been up to task in performing its duty to raise public awareness on the issues and development of genetic engineering, as mandated in Executive Order 430. It has instead concentrated its efforts in processing and approving applications of field trials of genetically engineered crops like Bt Corn, Bt Eggplant and Golden Rice. Issues in public participation on biosafety regulations, accountability and transparency should have primacy in the review process. The Philippine Biosafety Guidelines should likewise be reviewed, in light of the recent developments in genetic engineering worldwide and the coming into force of the International Biosafety Protocol under the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD);
  2. Finally, we support the passage of House Bill 3795, also known as the Right to Adequate Food Framework Act of 2014 since it will provide among others a comprehensive framework to ensure the right of every Filipino to access adequate food at all times. On this note, we wish to underscore the need to incorporate agricultural biodiversity in measures to address hunger, poverty and nutrition.

*emphasis in italic and bold, mine

Rethinking Small Town Economic Development — Aaron M. Renn

A friend introduced me to downtown revitalization consultant David Milder, who sent me some of his thinking on economic development in small towns. I thought his idea for “small town entrepreneurship environments” was interesting, so I recorded a podcast with him on the subject. We talk about why many small towns can actually compete, why seeking…

via Rethinking Small Town Economic Development — Aaron M. Renn

Click to listen to the podcast on SoundCloud

SK and Barangay Elections 2018: eeny, meeny, miny, moe

Eenie, meenie, miney, moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers, let him go.
My mother said to pick
The very best one
And you are not it.

When the Sangguniang Kabataan and Barangay Local Government Unit elections were postponed for what seemed like indefinitely public expectation in general was that a plan toward improvement of the two institutions, the SK and the Barangay LGU, was in the works. But, here we are today with the holding of local elections come Monday, 14 May, and except for the one or two push messages from Globe and National Telecommunications Commission reminding subscribers of the ban on campaigns done in specific ways and places, nothing. It’s the same saba all over again. To this, you could hear the people going what else is new?

Use your vote

Is there anything more that could be done about the situation?

The general belief and attitude among Filipino voters toward government is that the President has all the answers to their problems therefore has all the power to change the country’s ills. This cloths him or her in God-like omnipotence. Not only is this understanding absurd and dangerous in democracies like the Philippines, it also ignores and does away with local government, that level of government having the most impact on the lives of the people.

In 2018 and beyond, therefore

  1. We want SK and Barangay officials who have in their minds if not their hearts the best interest of the people in the villages.
  2. We want local authorities who are efficient and effective managers (meaning, they get things done on time according to plan or public expectations) or at least learning and striving to become efficient and effective managers of their villages. We want local authorities who are leaders that don’t cower in the presence of top brass when arguing that top-down policies and actions are not helping the people and communities.
  3. We want local authorities who source their passion from the people that put them there and not from the promise of money, fame, and power.

We do not care for local authorities who appear on our doorsteps camouflaged as sheep (when they really are goats), as tigers (when they really are hyenas), or as owls (when they really are bats), and when voted upon based on these mistaken identities conveniently forget vows and promises made (“er, that was the tiger talking”). We are so fucking sick of and done with their kind.

But what if it’s the same faces and names that we don’t care for? That’s the conundrum in Monday’s elections, see? Power is underhandedly taken from the people who are inevitably left with little or no choice. The other option is electoral boycott for, well, want of public preparation. But imagine the chaos that could ensue. Who now wants chaos? Then again are we not already living in a silent, waiting kind of chaos? Suppose federalism pushes through in the near future, we’ll be seeing again the same authorities elected on Monday.

On the diplomatic row between Kuwait and the Philippines

Kuwait cuts off power, water to Philippine envoy’s home headlines the Philippine Star on 3 May. What? What did the Filipino ambassador do to earn the fury of the Kuwaiti Government? Without knowing more about the incident, I’d say that for anyone to cut off your basic utilities not content with declaring you persona non grata— he must be really, overwhelmingly, pissed off (nanggigil nang husto). But why does this piece of news make me want to laugh? As the question goes about the three blind mice, has there ever been such a thing?

Power. The word flitted across my mind to sum up the information I got on the incident. The test is,

if the US Embassy in Kuwait were the ones who did what the Philippines Embassy did there, would the US Ambassador and Embassy personnel made to suffer exactly the same fate under the Kuwaiti Government?

No.

Take the principle of No Interference provided in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations. It’s an open secret that the US Government has dabbled enough (for locals to perceive it as interference) in the Mideast in the name of protection (ie. of US interests, and, well, world peace). We have yet however to hear of Mideast governments cutting off supply of utilities in US Embassy residences. If there would be a cutting off of something, it would be in trade – oil? – but not residential utilities for the United States. Otherwise, the Mideast governments will only make a laughingstock of themselves. You gonna cut off the electricity eh? Hello there NASA, bring in that solar spaceship! The more powerful a country the more sophisticated the treatment. The Kuwaiti Government apparently has deemed that cutting off Ambassador Villa’s utilities at his house is the most hurtful way to get at the Philippine Government. In a way, then, the Philippines has gotten away with less to worry about. With China humping happily on our back, the Bangsa Moro watching and waiting on the edges, the Commies flip-flopping like a car engine gone berserk, many young people un(der)employed, and the great masses still landless and poor, ah god, the Philippines can do very much with one less issue thank you. Even if it hurts our collective pride that our country by Kuwaiti standard is only as good as the cost of one household’s electricity and water!

Moving on, the Philippines’ rescue mission can be categorized as diplomatic asylum,

asylum granted by a State outside its territory, particularly in its diplomatic missions (diplomatic asylum in the strict sense), in its consulates, on board its ships in the territorial waters of another State (naval asylum), and also on board its aircraft and of its military or para-military installations in foreign territory

which, according to the UN Secretary General (1975), evolved from early custom and law,

he who has taken refuge in the house of a diplomat shall not be followed there, and his pursuers are to feign ignorance of his presence

-Venetian Statute, 1554

royal decree,

May the houses of ambassadors provide inviolable asylum, as did formerly the temples of the gods, and may no one be permitted to violate this asylum on any pretext whatever

-Charles V

and legal reference,

The American institution of asylum, with the special characteristics which it assumes on the continent, is, in short, the result of two coexisting phenomena deriving from law and politics respectively and in evidence throughout the history of this group of States: on the one hand, the power of democratic principles, respect for the individual and for freedom of thought; on the other hand, the unusual frequency of revolutions and armed struggles which, after each internal conflict, have often endangered the safety and life of persons on the losing side.

-Government of Colombia, to the International Court of Justice

DFA Secretary Alan Cayetano is therefore correct when he said that Ambassador Villa was merely doing his job. So shame to the DFA career diplomats apparently acting on their own who without further investigation were quick to call on the resignation of the Secretary (turning our backs on fellow Filipinos who dared risk their reputations and careers for others is exactly the mindless behavior of Filipinos that has gotten this country beholden and going around in circles).

There is, mind you, a caveat. Diplomatic asylum should not extend to criminal law offenders, for the reason that,

There would be no more sovereignty if within each State there was an independent territory which could serve as a refuge for all criminals and a hotbed for all kinds of conspiracies, and which could oppose its own law to the law of the country. The independent authority of ambassadors would completely absorb that of Governments.

-Faustin-Hélie

We, here, wouldn’t want something like that happening in our own backyard, do we? Thus: were the rescued OFWs at the time of the rescue slapped with criminal cases under the Kuwaiti Government? If it’s a yes, the right thing to do in this case would be to follow the legal process – this world’s like that – and ensure that these innocents-until-proven-guilty OFWs are armed with the best legal minds and supported with the resources they need throughout. That’s what OFWs need, require, from their Embassies abroad anyway and it’s the lack or inconsistent delivery of these that has gotten OFWs in trouble abroad in the first place. If it’s a no, that is, there is no case filed against the OFWs, they are free to go, to walk out of Kuwait, and return home. Exactly what the Philippines Embassy expedited. No crime there. The President shouldn’t have apologized.

To close, the diplomatic row could’ve been avoided, easily. But, in acting on the dictate of their tempers, both sides missed the opportunity to finally work on a mutually-rewarding solution to a common concern the plight of OFWs. Let’s hope both sides will come to their senses quickly, repair relations, and aim for the greater good. That after all is the mission of international diplomacy.


Source (of quotes): Question of Diplomatic Asylum. Report of the Secretary-General. UN. 22 September 1975.