- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2002

CEBU, Philippines A plan by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to hire former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani as an anti-crime adviser has met with criticism and ridicule from lawmakers and the public.

"Why don't we exhaust local talents first before we seek out help of foreigners?" Sen. Robert Barbers, a former policeman, complained on national radio.

Mr. Barbers, who chairs the Senate committee on peace and order, said talk of hiring Mr. Giuliani is an "insult" to Filipinos, who are "more capable" of addressing their own crime problems.

An activist priest, the Rev. Robert Reyes, accused Mrs. Arroyo of becoming "too Americanized."

"Does she want the Americans to run her administration?" he asked.

During his eight years as mayor of New York, Mr. Giuliani won international praise for crushing crime in the city and later helping the city and the United States heal in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Mrs. Arroyo's decision to invite U.S. armed forces into the country for joint military exercises intended to crush the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf rebels in the south seems to have the support of the majority of her people. But talk of enlisting the help of Mr. Giuliani, who recently was named Time magazine's Person of the Year, has received a cool reception.

Mrs. Arroyo floated the idea last week, after sitting with Mr. Giuliani on a panel at the World Economic Forum in New York. She told reporters there that her international advisers suggested the idea.

Mr. Giuliani's office in New York said the ex-mayor did meet with Mrs. Arroyo at the economic summit. "They did have a brief, nonspecific conversation," said Sunny Mindel, a Giuliani spokesman.

On Monday, after criticism of the plan began to snowball, Mrs. Arroyo's spokesman sought to clarify the situation. "It was just a suggestion," Rigoberto Tiglao told reporters. "No concrete steps have been taken. It would have to be discussed more fully with her advisers."

The next day, however, Mrs. Arroyo slammed critics of the plan as "anti-Americans."

"As far as I am concerned, I will look for technology that will place the Filipino world class in everything, [including] fighting crimes," she said, responding to questions from reporters.

Newspaper editorialists have had a field day with the idea.

"It seems President Arroyo has nose-dived from committing a serious error in judgment to displaying a sense of the ridiculous," said the Freeman, a feisty independent tabloid in the central Philippines. "She should be stopped from pursuing her notion about Giuliani."

Despite Mr. Giuliani's track record in New York, many law-enforcement people here are skeptical that his experience would be useful in Manila, a chaotic city of 12 million people that bears little resemblance to New York.

"He wouldn't accomplish a thing here," said a corporate security consultant who has been based in Manila for more than a decade. "The culture, the system of justice, just about everything would be foreign to him."

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