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Diplomacy, Propaganda, And The Search For Peace

March 24, 2009

blair-annan-montage2Has Malacanang really thought out just what it wants former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to do in connection with the search for peace in Mindanao?

Or have the ‘sperm’ of the moment bright boys around President Arroyo attempted to hijack the privately arranged speaking trip to Manila of Mr. Blair to hastily put sheen on its immobile efforts to woo the Moro Islamic Liberation Front back to the negotiating table?

The reality is this:

Blair was invited to Manila by advertising firm Campaigns and Grey (headed by top-notch advertising executive Yoly Ong) on behalf of its client, Smart Communications, as part of a special event for the Smart Infinity high-end mobile subscribers brand.

The ex-UK PM’s by-invitation-only affair was packaged as ‘Tony Blair in Manila: The Leader as Principled Negotiator” with the invitation to Blair coursed directly through the UK Embassy in Manila.

Each attendance ticket was reportedly priced at PhP 25,000.

Campaigns and Grey’s last political account was the pro bono service it extended to the late Sen. Raul Roco.

To add a little spice to its spin, Malacanang has even thrown in the name of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan claiming Blair and Annan were being tapped as ‘Advisers’ in the Mindanao peach search.

But Mr. Blair himself has now clarified that nothing is really on the table yet between him and Malacanang.


Truth is Blair has his plate full as the UN’s point person on the Middle East.

And what about Mr. Kofi Annan? Well his name hastened been bandied around again.

This writer’s own highly placed sources at the Department of Foreign Affairs said they “were never told about any plans for Messrs Blair and Annan.”

To be fair, the way things are going in Mindanao we need all the help we can get.

But being honest to potential foreign peace facilitators is very important.

What are the Palace spinmeisters up to?

Here’s one thing definite: the MILF would rather wait for the 2010 elections before talking peace again, this time with a brand new leadership with a new mandate and fresh political capital, unlike the outgoing regime which is in deficit.

In the meantime, the MILF is content on keeping up the pressure using its Abu Sayyaf comrades and ‘renegade’ commanders as willing lieutenants.

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