I’ve encountered some people who claim that with EDSA 1, we recovered democracy but not freedom. I don’t know what their definition of freedom is but here’s what good ol’ Webster says:
Well, what we are currently enjoying in our land sounds like freedom to me.
Let’s look at the internet, the virtual land where freedom may truly exist. Yuxiyou.net published an interesting infographics on censorship on the internet and see how our country is faring.
Yep that is indeed blue which stands for “no censorship.” Do they think that if we didn’t gain freedom 25 years ago we will be enjoying this status? More like we’ll be emo black like China where there is pervasive censorship. Not only do we have freedom online but we are truly free.
We have freedom of speech.
We have freedom of expression.
We have freedom of the press.
And we have freedom to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.
All of these we didn’t have before EDSA People Power.
“Bongbong marks EDSA anniversary, hopes for progress for country” by Christina Mendez
Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. marked the 25th anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolution – which started Wednesday – with a fervent hope that the country will attain real progress “in the quickest possible time.”
“I celebrate with every Filipino that is not stuck in the blame game, a situation that sets us up for certain failures as we have seen it happen in the past. Blaming gives one an excuse to fail,” Marcos said.
“I celebrate with all Filipinos willing to look forward, work and unite to earnestly bring progress to our country in the quickest possible time. If we say we can’t, then we can’t. I say: Kaya!” said Marcos in his official website and Facebook account.
Read more at Philippine Star
“Freedom from want is EDSA soul: Aquino” by Jocelyn Montemayor
DEMOCRACY from corruption and freedom from poverty.
This, according to President Aquino, is the meaning of people power. “Ito ang pamana ng EDSA,” he said in his message after the Thanksgiving Mass celebrated at the Our Lady of Peace Shrine along EDSA yesterday.
Aquino enjoined everybody to relive the spirit of EDSA and the unity and cooperation that was shown 25 years ago.
He reiterated his administration’s commitment to work hard at fulfilling his promise of bringing progress to the country and led the prayer for life and the unborn.
Read more at Malaya
“Government to brief donors on priorities“
PRIORITY PROGRAMS aiming to boost business confidence, promote government transparency and generate “inclusive growth” will be presented to donors tomorrow, officials said yesterday.
With the theme, “Implementing President Aquino’s Social Contract to Achieve Inclusive Growth,” the 8th Philippines Development Forum (PDF), the first under the Aquino administration, seeks to facilitate a dialogue between the government and donors on the country’s development agenda, according to a statement by the World Bank and the Finance department, the forum’s organizers.
“The PDF gives the government a good opportunity to present our priorities, so support from development partners can be aligned to these. This way, we can work in a more coordinated and targeted manner to provide greater prosperity to our people,” Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima was quoted as saying in the statement.
Read more at Business World
“Mayors want say on projects” by Ana Mae G. Roa
MAYORS OF poor municipalities have recommended to the administration the adoption of a bottoms-up approach in poverty-reduction projects, according to a resolution submitted yesterday to Malacañang.
The mayors who attended the Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) Mayors’ Forum on Integrating CDD (community-driven development) in Local Governance Practice, called on the national government to use CDD in implementing anti-poverty programs.
“They are suggesting making CDD as a strategy of the national government in all, if not, most of the projects,” Social Welfare Secretary Corazon J. Soliman said in an interview after the forum held at the Palace.
Read more at Business World
“Firms’ optimism slips in Q1“
OPTIMISM among businesses in the country slipped this quarter, weighed partly by concerns over rising prices of oil and other commodities, results of the latest Business Expectations Survey which the central bank released yesterday showed.
Still, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) noted that the overall confidence index — computed as the percentage of respondents who answered in the affirmative less the percentage of those who answered in the negative with respect to their views on specific indicators — remained “strong” at 47.5% this quarter.
Specifically, the first quarter 2011 index slid from 50.6% in the fourth quarter last year, but was still better than the 39.1% recorded in Jan.-March 2010, the BSP data showed.
Read more at Business World
“Albert del Rosario sworn in as acting foreign affairs secretary” by Christine Avendaño
Former Ambassador to Washington Albert del Rosario was sworn into office Thursday as the acting Foreign Affairs Secretary.
Del Rosario took his oath before President Aquino in the Palace shortly after both of them appeared at a news conference where the Chief Executive spoke about his government’s preparations for the voluntary evacuations of Filipinos in now strife-torn Libya.
Mr. Aquino told reporters said he needed Del Rosario in the current crisis facing Filipinos based in Libya as well as other countries in the Middle East.
Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer
“Bilateral cooperation pact tops new EU envoy’s priorities” by Jessica Anne D. Hermosa
THE EUROPEAN UNION (EU) is keen on preparing for the implementation of soon to be signed cooperation deal with the Philippines through the forging of a free trade deal and the streamlining of customs procedures, its new ambassador yesterday said.
Guy Ledoux, who presented his credentials to Malacañang on Monday, said he will also retain as priorities the EU delegation’s advocacies of helping peace efforts in Mindanao and development projects across the country.
“The EU-Philippines Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) will be signed soon,” Mr. Ledoux said without elaborating in a press briefing, referring to the broad framework pact whose negotiations were concluded last year.
Read more at Business World
“Ayala Alabang requires prescription for condom” by Jojo Malig
Barangay Ayala Alabang in Muntinlupa City is now requiring people who buy condoms to present a doctor’s prescription.
In a barangay ordinance last January 3, village officials said condoms and other contraceptives cause abortions.
The ordinance also bars teachers, reproductive health advocates, and social workers from holding sex education activities in the barangay without prior consultation with parents of students.
Read more at ABS-CBN News
“I know, for a fact, we cannot go back to the old society, where a few enjoy the fat of the land, and the many suffer. But today, in spite of martial law, the rich are getting richer and the poor are growing in numbers. That cannot be. The meaning of our struggle is to be able to return the freedom. First, you must return the freedom so that all segments of our community, whether from the left or from the right will have the right to speak, and then in that open debate, in that clash of debate in the marketplace, we will produce the clash between the thesis and the antithesis and we will have the synthesis for the Filipino people.” – Ninoy Aquino, Los Angeles, February 15, 1982
That in a nutshell was Ninoy Aquino’s raison d’etre for continuing his struggle against the authoritarian regime of Ferdinand Marcos back in 1981 when he spoke before a gathering in Los Angeles. That was his reason for deciding to go back to the Philippines after spending seven years and seven months in prison, having in the process endured periods of solitary confinement, a forty day hunger strike and as a consequence of that a heart by-pass operation performed on him in the US.
Despite his enjoying the comforts of freedom at the time having been granted indefinite leave from prison after his operation and having accepted a fellowship at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard, Ninoy was committed to his cause. Even if it meant incarceration, he said that if it would help speed up the return of democracy to the Philippines before things took a truly ugly turn for the worse, he would dedicate every last ounce of his blood to make it happen.
I saw for myself the simple yet comfortable life he had made for himself and his family. In May 1982, while on a cross-country tour of the United States, my family and I paid a visit to the Aquinos in Boston. Their home had become a Mecca of sorts for opposition figures like my father who ran with him in the 1978 parliamentary elections under the party Lakas ng Bayan. So almost like a revolving door, Ninoy welcomed us in just as Joe Burgos, the editor-in-chief and publisher of Malaya was about to leave. This was the second time I was to meet Ninoy. The first was at his home on Times Street during his three week furlough from prison in December 1979.
For three days, Ninoy acted as our tour guide. Each day he would take us from the Holiday Inn where we were staying and drive us around in his station wagon to see the major sites in the city including the JFK Memorial Center, Harvard of course, Bunker Hill, the aquarium and the port where some ships from the Boston Tea Party were docked, not to mention the local Toys R Us store!
One night he brought us home and we got to chat with Cory in their dining room while their kids watched television in the adjacent lounge (see photo). After spending the whole day listening to Ninoy recount the many tales he had, this time it was Mrs Aquino who did most of the talking. The contrast was obvious. While Ninoy who had gained a few pounds since the last time I saw him was very jovial and showed no sign of rancor or bitterness from all the years he had suffered in prison, you could tell from the way Cory spoke in her soft-spoken manner that they had indeed been through hell and back.
And so the question was would Ninoy Aquino return to the Philippines after having felt abandoned by his people for so long. The answer was an emphatic yes. And the reason? Well, it was as he put it to restore freedom. This was as he said in his speech what our forefathers had died for, and it was what countless Filipinos were dying for at the time. He wanted to restore it not by force but through peaceful means following the example of Mahatma Gandhi in India.
This is what transpired although not in the manner he had foreseen. Had Ninoy lived, he would have sought to bring about a political settlement along the lines of South Africa’s end to apartheid. Knowing how Marcos operated though it would not have been easy. Events in the Philippines might instead have mirrored those in Zimbabwe where despite a power-sharing deal with the opposition, President Mugabe remains in charge of the military and continues to oppress his people.
We know from his speeches that Ninoy was in talks with Nur Misuari of the MNLF as well as the Communist Party of the Philippines. He would have sought to bring to the table all political forces to forge an end to conflict by promising a more open democratic space through political and social reforms. The political philosophy that he personally espoused was based on Christian Socialism or the left of center social democrat ideology, but he did not claim to have the solution for governing the 48 million Filipinos at the time and was willing to work with parties of all political persuasion to find one.
A Quarter Century Hence
As we look back on the 25th anniversary of EDSA People Power I, there is a sense of poignancy to this year’s commemoration with the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The desire and yearning for freedom it seems is not confined to the West alone. You might say that the social cauldron that prevailed in the Philippines at the time prevails in these countries now as well. These conditions being a large urban population, with a growing proportion of them under 30 years of age and well-educated, coupled with high unemployment and corrupt, oppressive rulers that have overstayed their welcome.
The utility of material wealth in the absence of guaranteed political and civil rights in this environment is greatly diminished as repressive rulers can at any time arbitrarily strip these privileges away. As evidence mounts on the extent to which these rulers will preserve their grip on power (which in a digital age becomes impossible to cover up), the citizenry begin to demand freedom and are willing to lay down their lives for it. This is exactly what happened in the lead up to EDSA I and to the MENA uprisings.
But, unlike those living in the MENA region, we have the benefit of hindsight–twenty five years of it. As humans we are often prone to try and make sense of past events. As we reflect on those days, we find ourselves asking what did it all mean? What was it all about? Apart from bringing down a dictator and restoring democracy, was there/is there anything more that they were supposed to deliver or signify?
How we answer these questions will determine the way we ultimately evaluate the event. If we say that EDSA was meant to usher in social reforms that would underwrite our political and economic development as a nation, we might conclude that EDSA as a project has failed so far or is incomplete. If we say that EDSA was just meant to bring back democratic “space” from which society could get on with the task of reforming itself, then we might say yes, EDSA has truly delivered all that it promised or is in the process of delivering.
Unfortunately, many seem to to take the former view that EDSA has failed. Even Bongbong Marcos, son of the deposed Ferdinand, and now a senator has on the eve of the celebrations tried to engage in some historical revisionism by saying that the Philippines would have rivaled Singapore in achieving first world status by now if not for the uprising in February. Expectations are for him to make a bid for the presidency in 2016 using the relatively well-off North as his base.
The more progressive elements in our society point to the incomplete retrieval of the hidden wealth of the Marcoses and their cronies, the lack of closure for the human rights victims of Martial Law, the continuing conflict with the communists and the Islamic separatists in the south, and the unfulfilled promise of agrarian reform that all point to the failure of EDSA I in bringing about social justice and social equity for the broad majority of Filipinos.
In many of the indicators of human development such as child and maternal health, poverty, hunger and education, the Philippines is lagging behind its neighbors in the region. The nearly ten years of economic growth that we have just witnessed produced very little in terms of social inclusion.
Even taking the weaker argument that EDSA was only meant to usher in democracy into consideration, there are many signposts that tell us that project remains incomplete. The nation has slipped from being a “full democracy” to being a “flawed democracy” in the Economist’s Democracy Index. As a result of extra-judicial killings, disappearances and violence against journalists, the impunity index ranks the country as among the top offenders in this regard.
The conduct of the last elections shows the costly nature of our electoral system and the prevalence of electoral fraud. The flawed judicial system and the low rankings of the country in several rule of law indicators shows just how prone our legal system is to corruption. The restoration of the old order of elite politics, the old society that Ninoy had argued was untenable is demonstrated by the prevalence of warlords and money politics.
Indeed from both the broad objective of inclusive development to the more narrow one of creating democratic space, the EDSA I revolution seems to be an imperfect one. How then can this be rectified?
Perhaps it starts with us envisioning where we want our nation to be over the next twenty five years. A quarter century hence in the year 2036, what kind of country or society do we want for ourselves, our children and grandchildren? Given the experience of the previous quarter century, there is much to be done.
It would take the same indomitable spirit that Ninoy showed to ensure that this impossible dream of his is realized.
By Scott Stewart
As George Friedman noted in his geopolitical weekly “Revolution and the Muslim World,” one aspect of the recent wave of revolutions we have been carefully monitoring is the involvement of militant Islamists, and their reaction to these events.
Militant Islamists, and specifically the subset of militant Islamists we refer to as jihadists, have long sought to overthrow regimes in the Muslim world. With the sole exception of Afghanistan, they have failed, and even the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan was really more a matter of establishing a polity amid a power vacuum than the true overthrow of a coherent regime. The brief rule of the Supreme Islamic Courts Council in Somalia also occurred amid a similarly chaotic environment and a vacuum of authority.
However, even though jihadists have not been successful in overthrowing governments, they are still viewed as a threat by regimes in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. In response to this threat, these regimes have dealt quite harshly with the jihadists, and strong crackdowns combined with other programs have served to keep the jihadists largely in check.
As we watch the situation unfold in Libya, there are concerns that unlike Tunisia and Egypt, the uprising in Libya might result not only in a change of ruler but also in a change of regime and perhaps even a collapse of the state. In Egypt and Tunisia, strong military regimes were able to ensure stability after the departure of a long-reigning president. By contrast, in Libya, longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi has deliberately kept his military and security forces fractured and weak and thereby dependent on him. Consequently, there may not be an institution to step in and replace Gadhafi should he fall. This means energy-rich Libya could spiral into chaos, the ideal environment for jihadists to flourish, as demonstrated by Somalia and Afghanistan.
Because of this, it seems an appropriate time to once again examine the dynamic of jihadism in Libya.
Gadhafi responded with an iron fist, essentially imposing martial law in the Islamist militant strongholds of Darnah and Benghazi and the towns of Ras al-Helal and al-Qubbah in the Jabal al-Akhdar region. After a series of military crackdowns, Gadhafi gained the upper hand in dealing with his Islamist militant opponents, and the insurgency tapered off by the end of the 1990s. Many LIFG members fled the country in the face of the government crackdown and a number of them ended up finding refuge with groups like al Qaeda in places such as Afghanistan.
While the continued participation of Libyan men in fighting on far-flung battlefields was not expressly encouraged by the Libyan government, it was tacitly permitted. The Gadhafi regime, like other countries in the region, saw exporting jihadists as a way to rid itself of potential problems. Every jihadist who died overseas was one less the government had to worry about. This policy did not take into account the concept of “tactical Darwinism,” which means that while the United States and its coalition partners will kill many fighters, those who survive are apt to be strong and cunning. The weak and incompetent have been weeded out, leaving a core of hardened, competent militants. These survivors have learned tactics for survival in the face of superior firepower and have learned to manufacture and effectively employ new types of highly effective improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
In a Nov. 3, 2007, audio message, al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri reported that the LIFG had formally joined the al Qaeda network. This statement came as no real surprise, given that members of the group have long been close to al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden. Moreover, the core al Qaeda group has long had a large number of Libyan cadre in its senior ranks, including men such as Abu Yahya al-Libi, Anas al-Libi, Abu Faraj al-Libi (who reportedly is being held by U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay) and Abu Laith al-Libi, who was killed in a January 2008 unmanned aerial vehicle strike in Pakistan.
The scope of Libyan participation in jihadist efforts in Iraq became readily apparent with the September 2007 seizure of a large batch of personnel files from an al Qaeda safe house in the Iraqi city of Sinjar. The Sinjar files were only a small cross-section of all the fighters traveling to Iraq to fight with the jihadists, but they did provide a very interesting snapshot. Of the 595 personnel files recovered, 112 of them were of Libyans. This number is smaller than the 244 Saudi citizens represented in the cache, but when one considers the overall size of the population of the two countries, the Libyan contingent represented a far larger percentage on a per capita basis. The Sinjar files suggested that a proportionally higher percentage of Libyans was engaged in the fighting in Iraq than their brethren from other countries in the region.
Another interesting difference was noted in the job-description section of the Sinjar files. Of those Libyan men who listed their intended occupation in Iraq, 85 percent of them listed it as suicide bomber and only 13 percent listed fighter. By way of comparison, only 50 percent of the Saudis listed their occupation as suicide bomber. This indicates that the Libyans tended to be more radical than their Saudi counterparts. Moroccans appeared to be the most radical, with more than 91 percent of them apparently desiring to become suicide bombers.
The Libyan government’s security apparatus carefully monitored those Libyans who passed through the crucible of fighting on the battlefield in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and then returned to Libya. Tripoli took a carrot-and-stick approach to the group similar to that implemented by the Saudi regime. As a result, the LIFG and other jihadists were unable to pose a serious threat to the Gadhafi regime, and have remained very quiet in recent years. In fact, they were for the most part demobilized and rehabilitated.
Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, oversaw the program to rehabilitate LIFG militants, which his personal charity managed. The regime’s continued concern over the LIFG was clearly demonstrated early on in the unrest when it announced that it would continue the scheduled release from custody of LIFG fighters.
The Sinjar reports also reflected that more than 60 percent of the Libyan fighters had listed their home city as Darnah and almost 24 percent had come from Benghazi. These two cities are in Libya’s east and happen to be places where some of the most intense anti-Gadhafi protests have occurred in recent days. Arms depots have been looted in both cities, and we have seen reports that at least some of those doing the looting appeared to have been organized Islamists.
A U.S. State Department cable drafted in Tripoli in June 2008 made available by WikiLeaks talked about this strain of radicalism in Libya’s east. The cable, titled “Die Hard in Derna,” was written several months after the release of the report on the Sinjar files. Derna is an alternative transliteration of Darnah, and “Die Hard” was a reference to the Bruce Willis character in the Die Hard movie series, who always proved hard for the villains to kill. The author of the cable, the U.S. Embassy’s political and economic officer, noted that many of the Libyan fighters who returned from fighting in transnational jihad battlefields liked to settle in places like Darnah due to the relative weakness of the security apparatus there. The author of the cable also noted his belief that the presence of these older fighters was having an influence on the younger men of the region who were becoming radicalized, and the result was that Darnah had become “a wellspring of foreign fighters in Iraq.” He also noted that some 60-70 percent of the young men in the region were unemployed or underemployed.
Finally, the author opined that many of these men were viewing the fight in Iraq as a way to attack the United States, which they saw as supporting the Libyan regime in recent years. This is a concept jihadists refer to as attacking the far enemy and seems to indicate an acceptance of the transnational version of jihadist ideology — as does the travel of men to Iraq to fight and the apparent willingness of Libyans to serve as suicide bombers.
Trouble on the Horizon?
This deep streak of radicalism in eastern Libya brings us back to the beginning. While it seems unlikely at this point that the jihadists could somehow gain control of Libya, if Gadhafi falls and there is a period of chaos in Libya, these militants may find themselves with far more operating space inside the country than they have experienced in decades. If the regime does not fall and there is civil war between the eastern and western parts of the country, they could likewise find a great deal of operational space amid the chaos. Even if Gadhafi, or an entity that replaces him, is able to restore order, due to the opportunity the jihadists have had to loot military arms depots, they have suddenly found themselves more heavily armed than they have ever been inside their home country. And these heavily armed jihadists could pose a substantial threat of the kind that Libya has avoided in recent years.
Given this window of opportunity, the LIFG could decide to become operational again, especially if the regime they have made their deal with unexpectedly disappears. However, even should the LIFG decide to remain out of the jihad business as an organization, there is a distinct possibility that it could splinter and that the more radical individuals could cluster together to create a new group or groups that would seek to take advantage of this suddenly more permissive operational environment. Of course, there are also jihadists in Libya unaffiliated with LIFG and not bound by the organization’s agreements with the regime.
The looting of the arms depots in Libya is also reminiscent of the looting witnessed in Iraq following the dissolution of the Iraqi army in the face of the U.S. invasion in 2003. That ordnance not only was used in thousands of armed assaults and indirect fire attacks with rockets and mortars, but many of the mortar and artillery rounds were used to fashion powerful IEDs. This concept of making and employing IEDs from military ordnance will not be foreign to the Libyans who have returned from Iraq (or Afghanistan, for that matter).
This bodes ill for foreign interests in Libya, where they have not had the same security concerns in recent years that they have had in Algeria or Yemen. If the Libyans truly buy into the concept of targeting the far enemy that supports the state, it would not be out of the realm of possibility for them to begin to attack multinational oil companies, foreign diplomatic facilities and even foreign companies and hotels.
While Seif al-Islam, who certainly has political motives to hype such a threat, has mentioned this possibility, so have the governments of Egypt and Italy. Should Libya become chaotic and the jihadists become able to establish an operational base amid the chaos, Egypt and Italy will have to be concerned about not only refugee problems but also the potential spillover of jihadists. Certainly, at the very least the weapons looted in Libya could easily be sold or given to jihadists in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, turning militancy in Libya into a larger regional problem. In a worst-case scenario, if Libya experiences a vacuum of power, it could become the next Iraq or Pakistan, a gathering place for jihadists from around the region and the world. The country did serve as such a base for a wide array of Marxist and rejectionist terrorists and militants in the 1970s and 1980s.
It will be very important to keep a focus on Libya in the coming days and weeks — not just to see what happens to the regime but also to look for indicators of the jihadists testing their wings.
A Long History
Libyans have long participated in militant operations in places like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and Iraq. After leaving Afghanistan in the early 1990s, a sizable group of Libyan jihadists returned home and launched a militant campaign aimed at toppling Gadhafi, whom they considered an infidel. The group began calling itself the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in 1995, and carried out a low-level insurgency that included assassination attempts against Gadhafi and attacks against military and police patrols.
“Jihadist Opportunities in Libya is republished with permission of STRATFOR.”
1. LPG Back-office Supervisor
· Graduate of Marketing, Business Administration or Engineering course
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· Proficient in Microsoft Office application
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2. Senior Corporate Planning Analyst
· Accounting graduate
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· Adept in SAP
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For those interested, kindly send your your CV "directly" to Ms. Min Gochuico at [email protected]
LONDON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden over sex crimes claims, a judge said Thursday. Assange’s lawyer said he would appeal against the ruling to the High Court.
Judge Howard Riddle ruled that the allegations of rape and sexual molestation by two women are extraditable offenses and a Swedish warrant was properly issued.
Mike Tyson. Funny or die. Enjoy:
via Kara Swisher, the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D
Statement of Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda:
On the appointment of Albert del Rosario as Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs
[Released on February 24, 2011]
The President has sworn in former Ambassador Albert del Rosario as Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs. He comes with a sterling track record in foreign service to show that he will serve the President and the Republic with integrity and the highest devotion to the democratic principles that underscore all official actions, domestic and foreign.
He comes into office at a time filled with many challenges. The President believes that he must be brought to harness at the soonest possible time to be fully briefed and engaged.
Secretary del Rosario is a choice that can harmonize our professional foreign service, with the President as architect of our foreign policy, so that all are working together to pursue our national interest. The Chief Executive has every expectation that theirs will be a productive and energetic working relationship.