Lessons In Corruption, And Independence: Hillary Clinton In Manila
Was she or wasn’t she.
That’s the question opinionated Pinoys are asking themselves the morning after Hillary Rodham Clinton’s charm offensive in Manila.
Oh yes, the American Secretary of State punched the right buttons as she gamely fielded questions about who her crushes were other than Bill Clinton, her favourite NBA team, and her prediction that Manny Pacquiao would whip Miguel Cotto’s ass tomorrow at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
But did the top US diplomat hit a raw nerve when she spoke about how corruption “corrodes”?
Courtesy of my good friend Ellen Tordesillas, here’s the transcript of that portion of Sec. Clinton’s joint news conference with her Filipino counterpart, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo:
Question: Concerns re large troops in Afghanistan given concerns about corruption in Karzai government; talk about concerns of corruption and if they play role in determination of us war in Afghanistan?
Clinton: I continue to loath to share any advice received by the President in the course of his review. Its been an extremely thorough and thoughtful process and i will continue to honor the right of the President to hear from any of his government members or those outside government and to add that to the process of his decision making.
On the separate question with respect to corruption, lack of transparency, poor governance, absence of the rule of law, the concerns expressed not only by US but by others including PM Gordon Brown and many of our allies are ones that i share.
The Afghan government has to accept greater responsibility for its own defense by participating in training and deployment of an effective professional security force. It has to do more to respond to the legitimate needs of the people of afghan to deliver services….
The corruption issue really goes to the heart of whether the people of Afghan feel that the government is on their side, is working for them.
Corruption is corrosive in any society when leaders enrich themselves at the expense of their people when they put their own fortunes ahead of the fortune of their own people. It has a very unfortunate impact – people don’t trust the government. They don’t rely on the government. They can’t imagine a better life for themselves because they don’t think their leaders are working to obtain that for them. (Emphasis supplied)
We are concerned and we have expressed those concerns and we are looking for measures of accountability and transparency that will demonstrate a clear commitment to the kind of governance and outcomes that the people of Afghan deserve to see from their government And the international community should be able to look to as we move forward in our efforts to try to rid Afghan of terrorists that not only affect their lives but pose a threat to us and people around the world….
We look at it everyday in the State Department. (If) we are going to be providing development assistance, we wanna be sure it gets to where it’s intended. I have required that we look at every single contract that goes into Afghanistan ; that we do an in- depth review to try to determine if it is producing the results we expect; is the money actually improving the lives of the people of Afghanistan or not. So even before the review we were taking hard look at how business is conducted outside Afghanistan.
So was Sec Clinton also nudging Malacanang?
As this corner observed yesterday, the Palace certainly isn’t saying if it felt alluded to, in much the same way that it kept a “who me” attitude when President Barack Obama used his inaugural speech one year ago and warned:
To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
Anyone can play possum and just shrug off both the Obama and Clinton messages.
I’ve even heard some say that Clinton’s “lecture was an ill-considered intereference in the Philippines’ internal affairs and was a manifestation of America’s arrogation of the role of global policeman.”
But I think countries like the Philippines, whose of leaders have long displayed obeisance to Washington in exchange for both military and economic development aid, cannot escape the obligation to ‘behave’.
Up and until we put our own house into order by reforming our politics and elect leaders with true vision grounded on public welfare and not held captive by what I call ‘cadre/kumpadre politics’ but leaders who think, and decide with purpose, conviction, and independence.