Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has received more than her share of comments for her repeated and failed attempts to meet US President Barack Obama. Probably because Valentine’s Day was approaching, early this week one commentator compared Mrs. Arroyo to a love-sick woman vainly pursuing the object of her affections. She’s also been accused of being caught in the “outdated” anti-terrorism framework of the unlamented Bush administration. And (gasp), those who fret over the country’s “image,” especially before the US and Americans (what will they say!), have complained that by crisscrossing the planet trying to catch Obama’s eye, she’s embarrassed not only herself and her government but the entire country as well.
No one has so far bothered to seriously ask why she should be so focused. That’s certainly because there’s a near universal assumption among Filipinos that every Philippine government needs US approval. After all, many Filipinos ache for the kind of American recognition and appreciation exemplified by singing a duet with Celine Dion, or beating a Mexican to a pulp in a Las Vegas ring to the roar of an all-American crowd.
Let’s not exaggerate. Retired Armed Forces Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon is not really as Senator Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal described him.
Senator Madrigal compared Esperon to Adolf Hitler and to Josef Stalin when she learned that Esperon had been appointed Presidential Peace Adviser. Esperon did have command of the Armed Forces. But he commanded no force as powerful as the Wehrmacht as Hitler did, or an army as vast as the Red Army Stalin used to defend Soviet soil.
Covering her Tuesday visit to Camiguin, the media dutifully reported, as if it mattered, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s decision to “revamp” her Cabinet.
Speaking in the collegiala language that she probably thinks would endear her to long suffering Filipinos, the putative president of the Philippines initially told the media people present that who’s going to go to what post was “secret.”
In addition to condemning “the continuing culture of corruption from top to bottom of our social and political ladder (sic)” the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) decided, after a 12-hour meeting last February 26, to —
1) “urge the President and all branches of government to take the lead in combating corruption wherever it is found;
2) “recommend the abolition of Executive Order 464 so that those who may have knowledge of any corruption in branches of government may be free to testify before the appropriate investigating bodies;
The Arroyo regime is carrying on as if it were business as usual, despite the basement level approval ratings of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo herself as well as her entire Cabinet, the uproar over the arrest of media people last Thursday, and the regime’s imposition of a curfew in metro Manila and environs—and oh yes, the November 29 Peninsula incident itself.
The arrest of media people, continuing police harassment of TV network ABS-CBN, and the curfew were themselves indicative of regime resistance to any change in its policies and mindset. Despite what amounted to a policy statement over the weekend and before she left for Europe—“the media are not our enemy” and “don’t rile the media unnecessarily”—the police, for example, seem determined to intimidate (not “rile,” which means to annoy) the media, anyway.