POSTSCRIPT / July 5, 2005 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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It's cruel to blame GMA for all of RP's problems

SINS OF THE PAST: Is it not absurd, if not cruel, to blame one woman for practically all the ills besetting the country today?

Is it possible that President Arroyo by her lonesome had brought upon us the rise in fuel prices, the fall of the peso vis-à-vis the US dollar, the budget deficit, the run-away foreign debt, the growing unemployment and everything else that is wrong with this country?

The truth is that we are all to blame for the rut we are in. We all contributed to the problem threatening to swallow us — and we all must pay for it and help find a peaceful and just solution.

Some of the bigger headaches, including those having to do with state finances, are a buildup from the incompetence, profligacy and recklessness of past administrations.

The sins of the past are catching up on us.

* * *

WHAT’S GOING ON?: That First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo came back after a weekend trip to Hong Kong means that his departure was not the “exile” that some quarters had imagined to be part of the firefighting campaign of his beleaguered wife the President.

Conventional wisdom had it that Mr. Arroyo had been advised to disappear for a while in the hope that his critics would then leave him and President Arroyo alone.

Neither does his quick return mean, however, that the short sojourn to the former British colony was a holiday, a respite from the cares of Manila. A weekend is too short for real healing, despite some family members reportedly keeping him company.

The only conclusion I can draw is that his sudden departure for Hong Kong was actually a business trip.

What business can Mr. Arroyo possibly have in the former British colony? Let your imagination run wild.

Come to think of it, why did President Arroyo say (or was made to say by her ghost-writers) upon her husband’s departure late last week:

“For my children and my granddaughters, missing their doting father and grandfather is their small contribution to rebuilding our society. As a wife, I’m grateful to my husband for his sacrifice. My family will miss him terribly, and I ask you to help pray that we remain strong as a family.”

What’s going on?

* * *

CUT CLEAN: Before we let him go, I want to reiterate some suggestions that Mr. Arroyo might want to heed if he is to help his wife show true contrition to back her plea for understanding for her lapse in judgment in following up by phone the results of the last presidential elections.

It is not enough that Mr. Arroyo minimizes his public appearance or goes on self-exile. To convince the cynics and the critics that he is, like the wife, indeed sorry, he must:

  1. Dismantle his foundation where he draws money for his public relations gimmicks such as the giving away of free dentures and paying the hospital bills of selected indigents. That is the only way to allay suspicion that the foundation is just a laundromat for donations of people currying favor and buying access to Malacanang.
  2. Tell his boys — his friends and associates appointed to key money-making agencies — to pack up and resign before the mob catches up with them. Anyway,busog na sila. Even leeches drop off their prey when filled to bursting point.

Unless he musters enough courage to do these things, all efforts to whitewash his public image will fail.

* * *

COMMON DENOMINATOR: A reader who requested that he not yet be identified sent us a list of high-profile individuals and asked what they have in common:

  1. Angelo, Virgilio — president of Postal Savings Bank.
  2. Buñag, Jose Mario — deputy BIR commissioner.
  3. Cornista, Mario — consultant in PAGCOR.
  4. Coronel, Eleuterio — board member of UCPB, RFM, and chairman of Assets Liquidation Board.
  5. Cortes, Jose — president of Northrail.
  6. Cusi, Alfonso — general manager of NAIA.
  7. Francisco, Rafael — president of PAGCOR.
  8. Genuino, Efraim — chairman of PAGCOR.
  9. Manda, Edgardo — executive director of LLDA.
  10. Nery, Eduardo — consultant in PAGCOR.
  11. Peñasales, Antero — deputy director, MARINA.
  12. Rosero, Mabuhay — chief security of Casino Pilipino.
  13. Rosero, Leonor — chairman, Professional Regulatory Commission.
  14. Valdecantos, Renato — PRC commissioner.
  15. Villareal, Ernest — former chairman, PEA.

Will somebody please help us answer his question?

* * *

LA SALLE WEIGHS IN: All eyes turned to the Ateneo after La Salle weighed in to stand with those demanding that President Arroyo resign to start the healing of the nation.

De la Salle University president Armin Luistro said: “We pray her to voluntarily relinquish power so that a constitutional process of succession may proceed. Resignation would prevent the person from dragging the whole Philippines down, and we feel it has reached that point.”

The Associated Press commented that “although the (La Salle) took stands against presidents Ferdinand Marcos, who was toppled in 1986, and Joseph Estrada, who was ousted in 2001, De La Salle’s position was a surprise considering it has not been known for political activism.”

While acknowledging that the charges against Ms Arroyo have not been proven, Luistro said Arroyo could no longer serve out the remaining five years in her term with “the respect of the nation.”

* * *

JESUITS’ STAND: What is the stand of the Jesuits? Let Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, SJ, Ateneo University president, answer that one. He has said in part:

“Over the last few weeks, Fr. Provincial Daniel Patrick Huang, SJ and the Jesuit leadership have been meeting to assess the situation and to discern the path of truth, integrity, justice and peace and the path that will be for the good of our people, especially the poor.

“We believe that it is important, in these times of confusion and heated emotions, that there be a clear and trustworthy voice and a rallying center of unity for our people. We believe that this trustworthy voice and this point of unity is the Church, led by our Bishops. We are grateful that, in our search for solutions to the crisis, the Archbishop of Manila and the Bishop of Cubao have sought to unite us around the principles of accountability and constitutionality: that government should be accountable to the people; and that the processes to be followed in the search for truth and justice should be within the framework of our constitutional systems, for the sake of the lasting good of our institutions and country. xxx

“This is a time when intense discernment is needed. We need to discern with sobriety, prayerfulness, and astuteness the concrete operationalization of the principles of accountability and constitutionality that will best serve the country. We continue to work with our Church and our Bishops to discern these paths and the call that will lead our country out of our present crisis.

“We ask you to join us in prayer and discernment. This weekend, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) will be meeting. Thus, we ask that this week, in all masses and prayers at the Ateneo, we pray for the intentions of our Bishops.”

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 5, 2005)

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