MANILA, OCTOBER 14, 2011 (MANILA PAPER ONLINE) (Credit: If she accepts, Kris Aquino will be UNHCR Ambassador of Goodwill, the same post Angelina Jolie holds with the UN Refugee Agency. Kris Aquino has been offered to be the UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in Asia.

This was revealed by Presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas after arriving today from Geneva, Switzerland where he attended the UNHCR executive meeting.

“Iniimbitahan nila si Kris Aquino na maging ambassadress of goodwill nila sa Asia in the tradition of Angelina Jolie and Princess Diana. Hindi ko alam kung tinanggap na ‘yung ganung klaseng offer ng UNHCR,” Llamas told the media during a press conference. (“They have invited Kris Aquino to be an ambassadress of goodwill in Asia in the tradition of Angelina Jolie and Princess Diana. I just don’t know if the UNHCR offer has been accepted.”)

No word yet from Kris Aquino’s camp if she will or has accepted the offer of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). But the offer is too good to pass up. And I don’t think the president’s youngest sister will let go of an opportunity to be in the same league (as far as the UNHCR post is, at least) as Jolie and the late Princess Diana.

The UNHCR has traditionally recruited high-profile celebrities and personalities to represent itself. Aside from Angelina Jolie, among its present ambassadors are Barbara Hendricks, Adel Imam, Giorgio Armani, Boris Trajanov, Julien Clerc, George Dalaras, Osvaldo Laport, Khaled Hosseini, Jesús Vázquez and Muazzez Ersoy. In the past, Richard Burton, Nazia Hassan, James Mason and Sophia Loren have also served as its ambassadors.



Actress Angelina Jolie has nothing to fear. Kris Aquino will not take her position away from her.

But Kris, the presidential sister, was not “offered” the post of ambassadress of goodwill by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees.

She asked for the position and the Manila office of UNHCR, through its head Bernard Kerblat, decided to give her the post of “honorary patron” of the agency instead.

Kris has sought the position for some time, our sources say, but it was only recently that Kerblat’s office endorsed the offer to the Geneva head office of UNHCR.

The informants said the agency has a policy of not turning down anyone who seeks the title if they really want it and if they can prove that they have a genuine desire to do the work of aiding refugees.

Incidentally, Kerblat, a Frenchman, is married to a Filipina, Victoria Abad Kerblat. Abad-Kerblat, according to her blog, is a biologist by training who worked in refugee camps and who dabbles in art; she hails from the province of Batanes.

It was embattled presidential adviser for political affairs Ronald Llamas who on Monday reported that the executive committee of the UNHCR in Geneva had appointed Kris as goodwill ambassador.

Kris confirmed this later on, without mentioning that she was not exactly a goodwill ambassador like Jolie—or that it was she who sought the position.

* * *

We expected President Noynoy Aquino not to fire his chief political adviser, Ronald Llamas, in the aftermath of the discovery of the latter’s cache of high-powered firearms. What we didn’t expect was for Aquino to go all-out in defending his shooting buddy.

“After the evaluation, it was determined that there was a very real threat on him,” President Aquino told the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines in a forum. “He’s involved in so many negotiations.... There are people who would not want these negotiations to prosper.”

Of course, it’s futile to expect Llamas to resign on his own. After pleading innocent to committing any illegal act (the standard defense of those caught in an impropriety in the much-vilified Arroyo administration), Llamas also placed his fate in the hands of his boss, the man who probably got him interested in high-powered firearms in the first place.

“I am willing to resign if the President asks me to,” he said, bravely. “We serve at the pleasure of the President.”

Well, we already know what the President’s pleasure is. And all the impropriety of a Cabinet member owning five licensed guns, of his people joy-riding in his official SUV and of other people also in his employ removing the weapons from the scene of an accident has been swept away.

As for the supposed death threats to a political adviser, something no one who held that position had received before, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago once again has the final word. If Llamas feels that the death threats are preventing him from performing his job, so much so that he has to be armed to the teeth wherever he goes, the perhaps he should just resign.

“Simply because he is presidential adviser, and merely on his say-so of alleged death threats, Llamas is not automatically entitled to the rare privilege of a permit to carry for such ostentatious and high-powered firearms as an AK-47 and an M-16,” Santiago said. “I want to investigate the PNP. What kind of investigation do you do when a person says I have a threat in my life? Does it depend to the status of a person? Does it depend on how close he is to the powers-that-be in Malacañang? Is that it?”

Well, Senator Miriam, renowned eater of death threats for breakfast, your questions have already been answered by Aquino himself. Llamas is “kabarilan,” after all—and those people never get punished, nor do they have the decency to leave on their own.

* * *

Poor President Noynoy Aquino. In his very first appearance before the Manila-based foreign media, he has had to resort once again to his all-too-familiar human-ness, saying he was “insulted” by a question that sought his response to his supposed addiction to video games.

“I’m sorry, I’m also human…. I’m insulted if I’m asked to disprove a non-event, and I think any of us in the same situation would feel the way I do when I have to prove something that did not happen,” Aquino said, in reply to a reporter who asked if it was true that he was playing video games at the height of last year’s hostage fiasco at Manila’s Rizal Park.

Aquino could have told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of the Philippines that no, he wasn’t playing video games at the time. That would have been the simple, presidential way to answer the question.

Before he said that he was insulted by the question, Aquino had already done so. “If you do a little checking, there is no basis for such an allegation,” Aquino said.

But Aquino could not let the matter go—and neither would his questioner, to that journalist’s credit. Asked directly if he played video games and what games he liked, Aquino said: “I can’t go to Tarlac anymore and that is the main source of relaxation.”

Now, Aquino’s reply could be taken to mean that going to his home province is his main source of relaxation. Or that his video game consoles are in Tarlac and that he can’t play with them anymore because he can’t find the time to visit.

But that is not really what’s important. What’s obvious is that Aquino has become overly sensitive not only to questions about why he suddenly disappears during crisis situations but also to those that inquire into what he’s doing when he vanishes.

We may grant that Aquino was within his rights to feel insulted when asked about his disappearances and his pastimes. But we cannot fully sympathize with his plight, sad though it may be, simply because the wounds he bears are self-inflicted.

Indeed, how Aquino spends his “private time,” as he and his people call it, would be unimportant had he not displayed a marked tendency to vanish in situations that require his presence. Had he not been conspicuously absent during the bloody hostage-taking in Manila or at the height of the recent typhoons that continue to make life hell for the people of Central Luzon, few would wonder where he’s been or what he does in his downtime.

And the truly sad fact of the matter is that neither his spokesmen nor his most rabid apologists have sufficiently explained why Aquino simply goes AWOL during such events or what he’s doing when he does. All the glib talk about “monitoring the situation” just doesn’t fly—and only fuels the speculation that Aquino is engaged in some trivial pursuit.

If no other crisis or calamity visits us for the remainder of Aquino’s term, then we would probably just allow him to vent and plead humanity once again. But since no one can say when the next opportunity requiring Aquino’s presence will take place, then we just have to know if he will once again be too busy to attend to us, his supposed bosses.

Right now, Aquino just cannot feel insulted when people inquire about what he does when he goes missing. He will have to prove first that he is not really so laid-back that people speculate that he must be so engrossed in a video game that he cannot be bothered to show his face during a hostage crisis or when disastrous typhoons hit.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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