Despite eruption of widespread public outrage after it was revealed that his Assistant Secretary Carmen "Mai" Mislang sent derogatory Twitter messages about Vietnam during his first ASEAN summit, Noynoy has managed to play deaf at calls for his aide's resignation. Instead, P-Noy has come out defending her and stressed that he will not fire one of his trusted aides. To quote:
"Ipinaliwanag niya sa isang sulat at pinaalala ko lang sa kanya, well, bata si Mai baka yung akala niyang gawain na simple ay hindi niya narealize ang implications. I'm more or less convinced that she realizes what was done."
P-Noy used the lamest excuse of all in keeping Mislang as his aide. At 29, she is hardly the fresh-faced-fresh-graduate Malacanang intern that he wants everyone to perceive her to be. If he thought she didn't have the maturity to handle such state affairs to begin with, why is she in his cabinet in the first place? He needs to realize that this excuse can only be used once, for as the saying goes, "We are young only once, after that we need some other excuse." And judging from the photos of P-Noy with Mislang showing him as a close drinking buddy of hers, there is obviously a more worrying reason why P-Noy cannot fire her. A close friend who is not even competent for the job as a Presidential aide has no business being one.
In addition to the above excuse, P-Noy posted a message in his own Twitter account that comes across as a most subtle way of telling everyone to "Shut the *uck up! In the most ironic of all messages, PNoy's Panata of the Day says, "Don't be a fault-finder". It is a shame Mai Mislang's Twitter account is already closed because she could really use that advise. In fact, she could have used that advise the most before the trip to Vietnam.
P-Noy's Twitter message shows that the Filipino people could actually be underestimating his abilities after all. He does have a knack for turning things around. The cunning and talent he applies to making it look like other people who criticize his aide's uncalled for criticism of Vietnam are the bad guys is indeed, impressive. And his supporters love him for this. It says a lot about them, I suppose. But I digress...
P-Noy knows that most Filipinos, being of Roman Catholic orientation are "God-fearing" and he exploits this to implant guilt on those who point to his and his own Cabinet members' gaffes. Never mind that P-Noy's relentless GMA bashing and blame games in his own speeches, which we now know are co-written by Mislang, acts as a bad example of bad behavior coming all the way from the very top.
Some Senators like former renegade and rebel poster boy, Gringo Honasan and close Aquino ally, Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan are also dismissing the issue. According to Honasan "most of the criticisms came only from Filipinos, and none from the official members of the Vietnamese government" and Pangilinan said that Mislang had already apologized and was reprimanded.
First of all, those who were outraged with Mislang's and Ricky Carandang's behavior should be lauded because it shows that there are still Filipinos who know right from wrong. The minute we Filipinos start dismissing these types of behavior as non-issues, we become desensitized to these and start thinking that these constitute acceptable behavior.
Second, why should we wait for other people to react before we do? We should have our own set of principles. The Vietnamese government might have had a delayed and tempered reaction for several reasons: because the messages might have been lost in translation since the tweets were in Tagalog and English; and based on how the government had handled the bungled Mendoza hostage crisis, the Vietnamese government probably don't expect much from the Philippine government beyond these gaffes.
What Senators Honasan and Pangilinan don't realize is that there are actually a few Vietnamese Online forums where Vietnamese have expressed their indignation as well. Sites like People Voice Online and DCV Online.net show that criticism did not come only from Filipinos as Honasan was claiming.
Has Mislang actually apologized to the Filipino people? As far as I know, she only posted an apology on her Facebook wall. But what about the people who are not her Facebook "friends"? I sincerely think that her apology is not enough. She should at least make an official statement that she has learned her lesson considering her messages have now made it to mainstream media. I just can't take the words of the people, the ones who say that "she has learned her lesson" seriously. It just sounds like her relationship with them is so comfy and we all know that people who are coddled too much never really learn their lesson well.
At least Senate President, Juan Ponce Enrile is thinking more sensibly, as evident in when he stated that "I will fire her." In an interview with the media, Enrile gave this comment about Mislang:
"I will fire her. You are part of the entourage of the president, you have to be very careful even with the way you walk, with the way you eat, with the way you speak. Because whatever you do will reflect on your boss"
Mislang's behavior does reflect upon her boss. A lot of Filipinos are wondering why it is so hard for P-Noy to comprehend this. It is very much doubtful if P-Noy will heed Enrile's advise. He has an extensive track record of dismissing sound advice even coming from seasoned statesmen when these don't match his personal sentiment. In short, he only listens to advice that he wants to hear, the ones that jibe with his own agenda. Those that contradict him are branded as "GMA's midnight appointees" or "fault-finders". The day he stops blaming the previous administration for his own shortfalls is the day his critics will start taking him seriously.
Instead of bringing good news to the Filipino people after his first ASEAN summit, P-Noy was left to defend another aide from a fresh set of controversies. When will he ever have time to do his job?
As George Bernard Shaw once said, "Youth is wasted in the young." Well, P-Noy and his secretaries are not young anymore but they sure are wasting everybody's youth.