Nobody is sure if seating Philippine President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III during the Open Government Partnership conference next to U.S. President Barack Obama was planned or incidental. But it certainly gave P-Noy some importance. Imagine, after Obama refused to meet with him formally three times in the past, here’s P-Noy seated on the left hand side of the most powerful leader in the world.
My investigative reporter James Macaquecquec sent me the recorded conversation between the P-Noy and Obama. The conversation went as follows:
Obama: Hey, President Aquino, it’s nice to see you seated next to me.
Aquino: The pleasure is mine, Mr. President.
Obama: Hey, let’s be on a first-name basis, okay? What shall I call you? Noynoy? Noy? Peenoy?
Aquino: P-Noy is fine with me. Should I call you Barry, Barack or Barako?
Obama: Barako? Hey, there’s a nice ring to that! Barako is fine with me, Peeeeenoy.
P-Noy: Barako it is then, Barrrrrako.
Barako: Listen, we may have about five minutes to talk before the meeting starts. Isn’t that’s the same amount of time Chinese President Hu Jintao gave you when you went to Beijing last week?
P-Noy: Ahh… uhh… I think it was about five minutes and 30 seconds. But it was a meaningful meeting.
Barako: So I heard. You gave China the right to explore oil in the Spratlys for $1 billion. Is that true? Didn’t you know that oil exploration in the Spratlys could generate $50 billion a year in revenues?
P-Noy: Well… ahh… China would share the revenues with my country.
Barako: Is that in the agreement?
P-Noy: I’m not sure but I certainly would insist that we split the revenues.
Barako: You’d be lucky if China would give you $1 million a year, Peenoy.
P-Noy: If that’s all they’d give us, we’ll stop them!
P-Noy: We’ll send a naval armada to block them!
Barako: With what?
P-Noy: Well… well, we have a frigate, cutter, and 20 gunboats!
Barako: But, Peenoy, China has an aircraft carrier, submarines, jet fighters, and a two million strong army! And they’re building three nuclear aircraft carriers right now. How can you stop them?
P-Noy: We have a mutual defense treaty with the U.S., haven’t we?
Barako: It’s going to be logistically hard for us to come to your defense ever since your Senate’s “Dirty Dozen” voted to kick our bases out of the Philippines. The nearest American base is in Guam 2,000 miles away. And the Visiting Forces Agreement that we have is just that – visiting only, no bases.
P-Noy: Are you saying that you’re not going to honor our mutual defense treaty?
Barako: When we signed the treaty, we had bases and troops in the Philippines ready to defend your country at a moment’s notice. Realistically, we can’t defend your country from 2,000 miles away. We have to have our forces on the ground, just like what we have in Iraq and Afghanistan.
P-Noy: What should we do then, Bara… err… Mr. President?
Barako: My advice to you is talk to your leaders in Congress. Honestly, they can’t just sit on the fence and expect Uncle Sam to come to your country’s defense if you’re attacked. Mutual defense is all about mutual self-interest. We got to find a common ground, amigo. Do you get my drift?
Barako: Anyway, how’s your love life, my friend? I heard it’s down to zero? Hehehe…
P-Noy: Well, actually, it’s down to sub-zero. My former girlfriend, Shalani, is going to get married in January.
Barako: What’s wrong with that? She’s your ex, right?
P-Noy: Yeah, but you know how old flames are? They don’t go away easily.
Barako: It’s looks like you’re still in love with her, Peenoy. My advice is – follow your heart.
P-Noy: I can’t.
Barako: You can’t? Why can’t you?
P-Noy: Cuz my four sisters are against me marrying her! They all have their favorite woman for me to marry. But the problem is they can’t agree on one woman!
Barako: Hahaha…. Your four sisters… Hahaha…. (Stomping his feet on the floor)
(The other people in the room were laughing, too. Barako called his aide)
Barako: Hey, how come everybody’s laughing? What’s funny?
Barako’s Aide: Mr. President, the microphones are on. Everybody heard your conversation with President Aquino… including the 200 reporters covering this event.
P-Noy: Ay naku, naloko na naman ako!