Amba Babes Romualdez Celebrates The Philippines’ Independence Day


By Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan

If we believe what Babes Romualdez, our ambassador to the United States, says – we should have our heads examined for bipolarity or something close to that.

This former public relations handler of the US Embassy in Manila for the longest time was appointed to his present post because President Duterte needed the presence of an “Amboy” in Washington DC to balance his positioning for an independent foreign policy that would inevitably shift away from the Philippines’ long-standing US alliance, enhancing ties with America’s rivals China and Russia.  

Firebrand Duterte’s anger towards the US was fueled by Washington’s criticism of his war on drugs during the time of former US President Barack Obama and tensions only eased up with the election of the equally controversial Donald Trump as US President.

Meanwhile he needed a wimp of an ambassador to absorb the heat. But also soured up when Romualdez pledged he will move heaven and earth to get us to front of the long queue in receiving Pfizer and Moderna by December 2020.

Well, they finally came in six-months late on May 10. 2021 but only after the President had already launched the Covid vaccination campaign on March 1, after receiving Sinovac from China the day before.

As to why Duterte retained Romualdez is explained later in this article.

More embarrassment

In his column today June 11, 2023 at the Philippine Star, Babes lampooned a peer, Bobi Tiglao who write for the Manila Times, for being a recipient of an Award for Promoting Philippine-China Understanding.

Judge for yourself if his verbiage is worth the integrity of an ambassador or a journalist. I will quote Babes, verbatim:

“Tiglao was the former Philippine Ambassador to Greece whose short pathetic failed stint was marked by petitions and protests for his ouster by overseas Filipino workers.

“Nonetheless, Tiglao must have made his patrons happy when he called the 2016 arbitral tribunal award that invalidated China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea as ‘a hoax’ and even had the audacity to write a book about it.

“One can only wonder, does Tiglao – who is repeatedly fact-checked – really mean what he has been writing and saying, or is he mouthing the thoughts and words of another country? In any case, that should not really be surprising because he has actually been described, and worked as – a mouthpiece.”

First, I will be the first to take complaints of our OFWs with a grain of salt. You cannot go right with any of them because they insist on going abroad undocumented, and when they get into trouble, they expect the Philippine government to send the Philippine Airlines to extract them pronto.

Rigoberto Tiglao, APPCU awardee for outstanding achievement

I briefly researched on the source Babes provided and found out that the complaints did not warrant any further action as only wild charges and no plausible grounds were mentioned against Tiglao, thus revealing the gullibility of Romualdez.

Second, the 2016 PCA tribunal that Tiglao exposed as a “hoax” was indeed a hoax. For beginners, how can arbitration occur “between” one party or be unilateral?

Tiglao has established his case by writing three books about it “Collossal Deception”, “Debunked” and “Debacle”, with the third dealing with the nitty-gritty in the South China Seas.

Obviously, Babes has not even read them because Tiglao exhausted himself in more than 1,000 pages, looking for the probity behind the basis for that suitthat Romualdez claims Tiglao overlooked.

Babes’s accusation that Tiglao was “mouthing the thoughts and words of another country” also has to be disabused because the two books precisely search for any good the fake arbitration got the Philippines, and found nothing.

In fact, the “award” did not cede to the Philippines anything. It did not award the Scarborough Shoal to the Philippines. It even torpedoed our claim that the Kalayaan Island Group as a regime of islands or an archipelago, and diminished our claims to “mere rocks” that can acquire territorial sea, without also granting the Philippines “sovereignty” over those rocks.

Worse arguendo, rocks under UNCLOS, cannot generate 200 nautical miles of exclusive economic zone.

The only other thing the tribunal “ruled”, was under UNCLOS the nine-dash line claimed by China was without legal basis. But this better serves the United States and its allies that asserts that subsequently they have “freedom of navigation” over the concerned waters.

So who is now the “mouthpiece” of another country? But Babes!


The fact is there is no resolution of China’s conflicting claims because UNCLOS only became effective in 1982, whereas it cites historic and legal rights antecedent to that year, and predominant for three millennia, as justifications for the nine-dash line.

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Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general has already stated that the United Nations had nothing to do with Romualdez’ hallowed but useless arbitral tribunal, nor have a say in the merits of the case filed by the Philippines.

This matter is so complicated for simpleton Babes to ponder. Moreover, the legalese can only be resolved at the level of the International Court of Justice and the United Nations Security Council.

American investors?

Before throwing trash at Ambassador Tiglao, Babes began his column boasting of a surge of investments coming from the United States. He claimed that of the over $5 billion in pledges from US firms engaged in a wide range of businesses, $2 billion in actual investments have been confirmed by our DTI.

But his examples cannot support his allegation.

Babes mentioned that President Biden signed the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science (CHIPS) Act that created a separate funding of $500 million ($100 million a year for five years starting in Fiscal Year 2023). While this would diversify the source of semiconductor wafers which the Philippines imports for the assembly, testing and packaging of chips, he did not specify if we will be a recipient of any of this fund.

Romualdez merely vaguely said “We were informed by the State Department that the Philippines is among the countries that have been identified by the US with which they want to partner in the semiconductor supply chain.”

China is the biggest market for electronic chips, not the US and so how can the Americans expand by offshoring its chips production when its own companies face a contracting market as the Philippines does not have the supply chain to offer any support because its power costs are also the highest in Asia and China has the lowest labor overhead for chips?

This energy and labor issue are also downers for potential investors Romualdez has name-dropped.

We already had the entire Asian hub of Fedex at Subic during the time of Dick Gordon in the early 1990s. When Tong Payumo replaced Gordon, the former changed all the locator contract stipulations, the logistics company left for China after Fedex did not compromise with the new SBMA management’s corruption.

Procter & Gamble reduced its presence in the Philippines in 2009 when it completed its biggest manufacturing base in the Asia Pacific region in China’s northern city of Tianjin at a cost of US$248 million. As we speak, P&G is investing $100 million on digital innovation in Guanzhou, China.

Where P&G is expanding in the Philippines, but only to the tune of $15 million, is in the production of premium quality Pampers Pull Up Diaper Pants for export to Korea and Vietnam.

The others that Romualdez named have already been in the Philippines for sometime.

What is ominous, however, is that Pfizer and Moderna, manufacturers of American MRNA vaccines are looking forward to locating commercial operations for one of three worldwide Enterprise Solutions Hub in the Philippines to service the Asia Pacific market.

There are no specific amounts of investments, however, these big pharma outfits will bring to Manila, yet they promise to collide head-on with issues of “medical martial law” being advocated by anti-vac movements in-country.

According to Romualdez, these are no pie-in-the-sky promises but real dollars coming in. So, lets just settle for air-castles for now in the same manner he painted a rosy picture of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that came May, 2021 or six-months after the promised arrival.

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Usurping authority

Charlie Manalo of the Manila Times also had no love for Babes Romualdez.

In an article a month ago, Manalo wrote, “While the Constitution is clear that it is the president who is the chief architect of foreign policy, Romualdez hijacked BBM’s powers when he announced, ahead of the President, that the Philippines is reviewing granting additional bases to the US under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, or EDCA.

“Just because he is the cousin of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., does it mean he can freely encroach on the prerogatives of his powerful relative?

“This is not the first time that Romualdez has betrayed his subservience to the US. In 2021, at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, he revealed how he cried while trying to convince then-president Rodrigo Duterte not to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement and instead ask for anti-Covid vaccines in return.

“In the interview, Romualdez admitted to tying the continuation of the VFA to the US delivery of already paid for anti-Covid vaccines, which were being held back by the US in order to first inoculate US citizens on orders of President Joe Biden.”

Manalo went further to write that Romualdez’s “obsequiousness to his US masters” not only manifests in the manner by which he leveraged for additional EDCA bases, but also in his handling of Asian hate crimes in the US, of which the most recent victims involved Filipinos.

“Instead of providing assistance to victims to secure justice, he simply advised Filipinos to just ensure they are not alone when going out.”

According to Manalo, Romualdez’ indiscretion reminded him me of the statement ascribed to the late Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus over reports about a number of Filipino women falling victims to rape in the Middle East: “If rape is inevitable, one should just relax and enjoy it.”

“The ambassador, it seems, is pushing the President, his very own cousin, and the whole country as well, to the edge of a dangerous and deadly cliff.”

Alas Romualdez, stop your binge for ego-tripping, you are so babe in the woods!

<strong>Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan</strong>
Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan

is the anchor of Ang Maestro – the Unfinished Revolution at Radyo Pilipinas1, co-host of Opinyon Ngayon at Golden Nation Network Television, a political analyst, and author of books. His third book, The Poverty of Power will soon be off-the-press. It is a historiography of controversial issues of spanning 36 years leading to the Demise of the Edsa Revolution and the Rise of the Philippine Phoenix. Paglinawan’s past best sellers have been A Problem for Every Solution (2015), a characterization of factors affecting Philippine-China relations, and No Vaccine for a Virus called Racism (2020) a survey of international news attempting to tracing its origins. These important achievements earned for him to be named one of the 2021 international laureates for the Awards for the Promotion of Philippine-China Understanding. Ado, as he called for short, was a former press attaché and spokesman of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC and the Philippines’ Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. Facebook





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