Press Release
April 7, 2006


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, lashed out at the New York Times (NYT) for alleged foreign policy imperialism, and told the American newspaper to stop advancing U.S. business interests in the Philippines, in the guise of commenting on local political developments.

The NYT is not the guru of the developing world. It should stop hectoring President Arroyo about how to run our country, she said.

Santiago was reacting to an NYT editorial last April 5, which criticized President Arroyo for alleged increasingly authoritarian tendencies.

President Arroyo declared a one-week state of national emergency to defend the state against an impending coup detat. That is not authoritarian, that is a constitutional necessity. NYT should instead focus on the terrorist tendencies of the extreme left, the senator said.

Santiago, an international law expert, compared President Arroyos self-defense measure with President Bushs self-defense argument when the U.S. invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, saying that between the two, there is no moral comparison, for President Arroyo acted to save the Philippine state, while President Bush acted to defy international law.

The senator also noted that the NYT editorial criticized President Arroyo for allegedly reviving bad memories of . . . intimidation of critical journalists.

Critical journalism is freely practiced by the anti-Arroyo media, including one leading TV network and one leading national broadsheet. Almost everyday, they give prominence to anti-Arroyo stories and opposition efforts to remove her. And yet, the Arroyo administration has kept within the guidelines laid down in the case of New York Times v. Sullivan, the senator said, referring to a landmark case where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government officials should not be onion- skinned.

Santiago is on sick leave from the Senate for failing health, but explained that my hackles rose when I read the NYT editorial, which is a paradigmatic example of gung-ho American foreign policy imperialism.

NYT has to get out of the box, because this is already the post-Vietnam era. American media moguls should cease and desist from trying to create the Philippines in the American image. NYT people should read Stanley Karnow, Santiago said, referring to the Pulitzer prizewinner who wrote a Philippine history bestseller titled In Our Image.

Political instability in Metro Manila is deleterious to U.S. business interests. But that is no reason to demonize President Arroyo, unless the NYT has formed a search committee to choose the next Philippine president, Santiago said.

Santiago added that NYT people tend to subsume all manner of American interests under the rubric of democracy, as if those few self-righteous Americans have the right to claim democracy as their exclusive intellectual property.

Santiago stressed that the NYT does not speak for the U.S. government or the American people.

R.P.-U.S. relations are on an even keel, and continue to be amicable and forthright. I look forward to meeting the new U.S. ambassador to Manila, and to discussing with her ways to enrich our historic relationship, the senator said.

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