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Not even a typhoon that lashed the Philippines, with thousands rendered homeless, along with some deaths, as well as causing the rapid sinking of a ship where hundreds went missing, with many dead, were enough reasons for Gloria Arroyo to cut off her working trip to the United States, to meet, for a few minutes, an American lameduck president, George W. Bush. The insensitivity of Gloria shows much too much.
And yet, the propaganda spiel from Malacañang was that she was “very concerned” over the damage in the aftermath of Typhoon Frank.
Her spokesman, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza, stated that there was no need for Gloria to return to the country due to the typhoon’s damage to lives and property as she can continue to be “hands-on” through video conferences with authorities in Manila.
“There’s no talk about cutting short her trip. That’s why she would like to continuously be hands-on here and she is getting the National Disaster Coordinating Committee action as if she’s personally in the area,” he said, adding that she “is confident the machinery of government will respond adequately and that she is on top of the situation even if she is physically (in the US).”
But what is so important about her 10-day trip to the US? It is not even a state visit, but a working visit. And even as she claims that her trip to the US would focus on “further strengthening the historical ties” with the US and to thank Bush and the US Senate for its approval of the Veterans Bill, along with the new claim of holding meetings with the officials of the Miillenium Challenge Corp. (MCC) to “firm up” the country’s bid to receive large scale grants of up to $700 million for anti-poverty programs through sustainable economic growth, the reasons reek of pure insensibity on her part.
Virtually, everything churned out by Malacañang to justify the 10-day US visit is propaganda.
There is absolutely no need for a head of state and government to personally thank the US Senate for passing the Philippine Veterans Bill. A letter of thanks from her, in her official capacity, would have sufficed. Besides, that bill isn’t even law as yet, as there is still being awaited the House version of the bill, and of course, its passage into law through the signing of Bush.
Not even the excuse of her being present to firm up the Philippine bid for the MCC is enough justification for her not to cut off her 10-day “working visit” to the US.
As for her claim of her visit “furthering the historic ties” between the US and the Philippines, that rubbish. A brief meeting with Bush, whose popularity rating is so low that even the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, has been distancing himself from Bush, is hardly going to strengthen these “historic” ties, even if she meets up with McCain. The powerful bloc within the Republican Party had earlier pressed Bush not to meet with her in the past, precisely because of her corrupt image along with her government being stained with the blood of leftists and other militants through summary executions.
Her being a “staunch partner” of the US in the global fight against terrorism perhaps? That’s out, and the world knows it, since she could not be relied upon to live up to the conditions of the US’ “coalition of the willing” which she had embraced, marking her and her government as an unreliable ally of the US. Even more telling is the fact that, having been virtually dropped by the US, she turned to China, whom the US sees as a military threat.
Not that she should have kept her distance with China to maintain the country’s ties with the US as the country has even longer “historical and trade ties” with China, which started long before the American colonizers came to the country.
As for her talk with Bush, of what importance is that and what can she possibly get out of it, even propaganda-wise, considering the fact that he has less than six months in the Oval Office and she, less than two years in Malacañang? Besides, Bush is hardly going to bend backwards for her in whatever she claims to be seeking.
So she meets up with McCain, and has been trying to meet up with Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate, but that meeting is hardly going to boost her ties with the White House. Either candidate knows that Gloria is a liability, and can hardly be an asset to the the US presidential candidates.
As for her claimed “concern” over the damage Typhoon Frank wrought on the country and its people despite her refusal to cut short her trip plus her push for anti-poverty programs, how does she explain the fact that she has, in her entourage, some 60 congressmen along with some senators, for this US trip, which is to cost the Filipinos a mint? The poor are starving, and they spend money like water.