- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 1, 2011


Facing outrage from officials in the Philippines, the former U.S. ambassador in Manila mounted a weak defense:

“Don’t believe all you read.”

Kristie Kenney, now U.S. ambassador in Thailand, sent that message on Twitter this week, after Philippines Foreign Minister Alberto del Rosario called her a “dismal failure” as the American envoy to the key South Asian ally from 2006 to 2010.

The controversy exploded in Manila after the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks released some embarrassing cables Ms. Kenney had written, especially one that criticized the late Philippines President Corazon Aquino.

Kristie Kenney’s criticism of our champion of democracy was most unfortunate,” Mr. del Rosario told reporters. “She was a dismal failure in helping the Filipinos defend our democracy.”

Mrs. Aquino is widely revered in the Philippines for her leadership of a pro-democracy movement that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

However, Ms. Kenney accused Mrs. Aquino of “blemishing her reputation as a moral crusader” by supporting disgraced ex-President Joseph Estrada over Gloria Arroyo, who served as president from 2001 to 2010.

In the Byzantine world of Philippines politics, Mrs. Aquino joined Mr. Estrada, once a bitter foe, in 2005 and called for the resignation of Mrs. Arroyo, once a strong ally.

Mr. Estrada, himself, was forced to leave the presidency in 2001 over corruption charges. Mrs. Aquino fell out with Mrs. Arroyo also over corruption charges.

“[Mrs.] Aquino’s credibility as a moral crusader was tarnished when she was seen with disgraced former President Estrada in protest movements against then-President Arroyo,” Ms. Kenney said in her July 2009 cable.

Mrs. Aqunio, who died of cancer in 2009, is still regarded as an icon to democracy in the Philippines, although Ms. Kenney called her “only a partial icon.”

Her son, Benigno Aquino III, now serves as president.

Ms. Kenney also upset Filipino officials in a second cable released by WikiLeaks this week.

In a 2008 diplomatic dispatch, the ambassador reported on a private meeting between Juan Ponce Enrile, president of the Philippines Senate, and business executives from foreign chambers of commerce doing business in the country.

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