NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/16 October) — Since the birth of nation states, the guiding philosophy in foreign relations is to make and multiply friends and avoid by all possible means making enemies. Amity and never enmity defines succinctly international transactions. The art of diplomacy thus was developed to promote friendly relations among all nations. Diplomacy is simply that – to make friends and maintain friendship. The heads of state, ambassadors and consuls are the state’s top diplomats. They represent the country here within or in foreign lands. Hence they are expected to be civil, tact and cool, and at all times careful in their language to avoid misunderstanding and unnecessary conflicts. Be it known that tactless utterances are like vomits that are difficult to lick and swallow back once spewed. Such tactlessness and insensitivity provoke anger and revulsion that may impact sooner or later to the people the diplomats represent back home and, precariously, in the host territory. Even conflicted states observe diplomatic niceties to avoid escalating conflicts.
Friendliness is a sine qua non in foreign relations. It accords mutual respect and develops symbiotically beneficial transactions in trade, investment, tourism and other economic activities; opens cultural exchange and educational opportunities for citizens, and assures almost to the level of an obligation the flow of financial and material and other forms of assistance in fortuitous events, like in natural disasters and even in the possibility of an aggression by a rogue state.
An undiplomatic or a rogue state or its agents may become the object of contempt and derision and could become an economic and political pariah. The implications in falling into such predicament are incalculable to the citizens of that state.
The irresponsible way the foreign relations of this country is being handled and pursued is increasingly and quickly transforming us into a pariah in the community of nations. No amount of rationalization and justification can lick the vomit of the President to forgetting and forgiveness by those offended. It is high time for Mr. Duterte to cease acting like the feared kanto boy of Davao City now that he is already our President. Even if decency is not in his vocabulary, he owes it to the Filipino people to be decent and dignified in handling the affairs of the state. No matter the circumstances we have fallen, we still believe in decency and dignity as irreplaceable and demandable virtues in human affairs.
President Duterte has still some five years to preside the affairs of the land. That’s still a huge opportunity to correct the course of the ship of the state – in repairing damaged foreign relations; in no nonsense fight against corruption; in waging a comprehensive war against the drug menace above board; in balancing the quest for industrial development and a healthy environment; in creating and dispersing more jobs outside metro Manila; in improving agricultural productivity and food security, and in finally allowing the Bangsamoro to realize their dream for a homeland within the Republic.
In government’s pursuit of national agenda, critics naturally abound. Their presence should be welcome rather than persecuted or stifled because it shows that democracy is alive; government officials have to live with them.
If, at present, the President has a lot of critics that irk him to no end; he has only himself to blame. He made them. Every time he opens his mouth he unnecessarily and, often times, willfully spews controversies that attract pundits and aspiring critics alike. And can anyone blame them? They are almost like invited.
The President and his lieutenants should stop accusing critics as members of a plot to oust him or to destabilize his government. If there is one who is very vocal in destabilizing his regime or in destroying him, it’s no less than the President himself. A rabid dog may kill its victim, but the dog dies sooner or later also of rabies. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental)