In proposing that the Arroyo government turn itself into a administration of national unity, House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. is saying that it isn’t—a fact obvious to anyone except, apparently, to Arroyo spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao.

Tiglao said the Arroyo administration had been trying to be an administration of national unity. If it has, it’s been going about it rather oddly. Mrs. Arroyo’s appointment of her husband Mike as ambassador to the country’s workers overseas (OFWs), for example, has provoked more division rather than unity, and for quite understandable reasons.

As ambassador to the global OFW community, Mr. Arroyo would be addressing the legal and other problems overseas workers run into while working in different cultures and legal systems. He would not be paid for this task, said the President. But he would be empowered to raise funds for the legal defense of OFWs and for the “blood money” that in certain Islamic countries can get a person accused of killing someone off the hook by paying the victim’s relatives with.

Since there are some four million overseas Filipino workers (the seven million figure often bandied about includes immigrants, who must be distinguished from OFWs) in almost every country in the world, and some of them are in varying degrees of trouble, we can imagine Mr. Arroyo’s life transformed into a perpetual odyssey to the Filipino community in exile—now flying to the Middle East to save a Filipino construction worker from the executioner’s ax for example, and the next day flying off to Singapore to prevent the caning of a domestic from Samar.

In doing this health- and even life-threatening task, Mr. Arroyo would not only be unsalaried; he would also be spending his own money. But that’s all right because he’ll be doing it for his countrymen and women, and GMA cares.

If Malaca

Prof. Luis V. Teodoro is a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, where he used to teach journalism. He writes political commentary for BusinessWorld.

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