Gloria Arroyo smiles and shakes the hand of Myanmar military junta leader Gen. Soe Win in the recent Asean Summit in Cebu. According to Wikipedia, Soe Win was best known for his part in the crackdown on democracy protestors in 1988, deploying troops around Rangoon University and ordering them to shoot at Rangoon General Hospital during the upheaval.
Gloria Arroyo is said to be reaping a PR bonanza in her trip to New York. But Filipinos are not cheering her.
The very day she left for the US, one of her cabinet secretaries admitted before the Senate that he informed the President of a 200-million peso bribe in connection with the $329-million National Broadband Network-ZTE contract. The people are incensed that, at the very least, Arroyo did not do anything to make Chairman Abalos liable for the crime of attempted bribery or to punish her husband for again interfering in national affairs.
In New York, Gloria Arroyo joined the worldwide outrage over the Myanmar military junta’s violent attack on the Burmese monks and people. Arroyo even reportedly boasted about the Philippine being the “most democratic nation” in Asia.
Filipinos won’t applaud her because Arroyo is as unelected as the Myanmar military junta. She cheated in the 2004 elections and killed all efforts to investigate the fraud. Arroyo also continues to refuse to issue an order the Philippine military to stop extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Close to 900 have been murdered under Arroyo; about 200 are missing.
Is Arroyo a genuine democrat? No. Arroyo is known for her intolerance of criticism, especially those that unfold in the streets in the form of demonstrations — so much so that she authorized a “calibrated preemptive response” against protesters, which was nothing a license for the police to bloodily and brutally attack rallyists. Up to now, Mendiola remains a no-rally zone, with any group of protesters attempting to hold a demonstration there being subjected to the Arroyo treatment of batons, truncheons, shields and water cannons.
In a show of ultimate opportunism, Arroyo made the call for the Myanmar “authorities” to release Aung San Suu Kyi. But the Members of Parliament belonging to the National League for Democracy, the Lady’s party, knows fully well Arroyo’s record of arresting and detaining Crispin Beltran and Satur Ocampo. Only last year, parliamentarians worldwide scored Arroyo over the persecution of the Batasan 6. The harassment continues and Arroyo pretends to champion freedom in Burma.
Just last week, the mother of deaparecido Jonas Burgos went to Geneva to bring her son’s case before the United Nations. She was not forum-shopping. She just wants to find her son who has been missing since late April — and she wants the UN to help because Arroyo is not minding the problem, and even coddles the generals who are behind the disappearance.
Nobody believes Arroyo here in the Philippines. We all know’s just pretending and riding the popular global pro-Burma bandwagon. In fact, Arroyo’s trust ratings is now below zero. I think its at negative 11 and we expect her to return to Manila and think everyone is as colonial-minded as she is. She would want us to forget everything and just think about what Bill Clinton and the US businessmen said about her misrule. (The problem with Clinton and US traders is that they don’t live under Arroyo everyday so they don’t know that the Philippines is on the road to becoming like Burma.)
When Arroyo returns, I just hope to see gigantic streamers at the airport or en route to Malacanang that say:
MRS. ARROYO, WHERE IS JONAS?
MRS. ARROYO WHEN WILL YOU STOP THE KILLINGS?
MRS. ARROYO, WHAT DID YOU DO TO ABALOS’S BRIBE ATTEMPT?
MRS. ARROYO, WHAT IS YOUR HUSBAND DOING NOW?
MRS. ARROYO, WHEN WILL YOU RESIGN?
Photo courtesy of Malacanang, with the following official caption: President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo welcomes Myanmar Prime Minister Soe Win during a reception for the heads of states and governments attending the 12th Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the 2nd East Asia Summit and Related Summits Friday (January 12) at the Cebu International Convention Center in Mandaue City, Cebu. (Malacañang Photo)