The SONA of silence

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President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo knows a political opportunity when she sees one. But she didn’t have Angelo de la Cruz on display last Monday. That was uncharacteristic. Mrs. Arroyo is fond of displays, and not only during State Of the Nation Addresses. She also displays suspected criminals to the public to demonstrate that she’s tough on crime, during which occasions she makes suspects look like convicted felons, contrary to the Bill of Rights’ assertion that every suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Although she didn’t have de la Cruz in tow last Monday, Mrs. Arroyo did try to capitalize anyway on de la Cruz’ release from captivity by the Iraqi resistance group that had threatened to behead him. Mrs. Arroyo began her speech by declaring that de la Cruz was home, and that “we did it”—the “we” there seemingly referring to “the Filipino people,” but inescapably suggesting her own crucial participation. Continue reading

Kerry agrees with Bush

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The US Democratic Party is holding its national convention in Boston, Massachusetts to formally nominate Senator John Kerry as its candidate for President not only in the midst of unprecedented security. It’s also occurring when neither Kerry nor the Republican Party’s George W. Bush seems to have gained a clear advantage in the polls.

The news agencies describe Kerry and his vice presidential candidate John Edwards as “in a dead heat” with Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney. Bush has an approval rating below 50 percent, which should be good news for the Democrats, since the last five US presidents who were reelected had approval ratings above 50 percent four months before the elections. Continue reading

Funnyman Bush

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US President George W. Bush said something the other day Jay Leno could have used for his “Tonight Show”. If he hasn’t, he’s missed an opportunity to get a laugh at the expense of someone who truly deserves global derision.

For the information of non-cable TV subscribers, comic Leno has been the subject of the ire of our instant nationalists—some of the very same people who cheered Bush when he visited last year, but who’re bristling in indignation over Leno’s remark about how quickly the Philippines got its tiny military contingent out of Iraq. Continue reading

Friends and enemies

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“Please don’t confuse your enemies with your friends.”

Francis Ricciardone, Manila, July 15, 2004

Filipinos can only agree with US Ambassador to the Philippines Francis Ricciardone. You must know who your friends and enemies are. What’s equally important, you must also know who’re merely pretending to be your friends, but who’re likely to screw you at the first opportunity. Continue reading

Still faithful after all her fears

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As of this writing, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is getting praises from practically the entire range of the political spectrum, except the Poe wing of the opposition.

Church dignitaries, for example, have praised her for her sensitivity to “the legitimate needs and wants of her people,” for putting the life of truck driver Angelo de la Cruz first, and for simply doing what is right. Even some groups that call themselves “leftist and progressive” have declared their delight over Mrs. Arroyo’s seeming reversal of her aggressively pro-U.S. Iraq policy. Continue reading

Sacrificing Angelo de la Cruz

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Filipino worker Angelo de la Cruz could be dead by now, free, or still in the hands of his captors.

Whether he has been killed or not, the Iraqi group that was holding him used violence, first, by holding him against his will, again by threatening to kill a non-combatant by decapitating him to force the Philippine government to withdraw its 51-person “humanitarian contingent.” If de la Cruz has been killed, it would add only to the crystal clarity of the fact that it used terrorist methods to help it achieve its aims. Continue reading

Consider yourselves lucky

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Those who argue that the President of this country has the prerogative to hire and fire whomever she wants from the Cabinet make it sound as if that prerogative were as absolute as the Divine Right of Kings.

Leading this pack are the usual voices from Congress and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye, who’s urged the public and the media to stop talking about Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s recent choices for the Cabinet, specially Vice President Noli de Castro, who’s going to assume command over the Department of Social Welfare and Development this October, replacing Corazon “Dinky” Soliman. Continue reading

Asses and double cons

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The revived debate on charter change has inevitably called attention to the possibility that Mrs. Arroyo could extend her tenure in Malacanang beyond the six- year term that she supposedly won last May.

There is so far no evidence that Mrs. Arroyo plans to be prime minister or president—or even prime minister and president—in a parliamentary system after her term ends in 2010. Continue reading

Waiting for the miracle

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Everyone including the US Embassy in Manila has by now dusted off their dictionaries of adjectives to describe the agenda President de facto Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced during her inauguration speech last June 30.

Mrs. Arroyo’s allies, specially those eying appointments to government posts in exchange for their support during the campaign, were naturally beside themselves in their enthusiasm, and couldn’t praise the agenda enough. On the other hand, her opponents couldn’t seem to find the right words, dismissing the agenda outright as a rehash of her past promises. Continue reading