A reminder for Obama before meeting Arroyo

As Gloria Macapagal Arroyo approaches Washington DC for a meeting with Barack Obama, we Filipinos should remind the US president of the words he spoke on his inaugural last January 20: “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history.” 

For us, Obama was referring to Arroyo and we wish to tell him exactly that.

Arroyo goes to the US with a transparent and obvious objective of showing to the world and to our country that the US president and the US government fully supports her government. She wants a photo-op with the world’s most popular leader today to serve the narrow-minded goal of sweeping under the rug all the extralegal killings and enforced disappearances, massive graft and corruption, and mismanagement of the Philippines for close to nine years now.

Obama should raise the case of Melissa Roxas, a US citizen of Philippine descent, who was abducted and tortured while in the Philippines by purported elements of the police and the military. However, Obama should consider as well the nearly universal condemnation of the many extralegal killings and enforced disappearances.

Various groups of human rights advocates, journalists, lawyers and religious, as well as international agencies and foreign governments have urged Arroyo to take action but no mastermind has ever been arrested, prosecuted or convicted of these abuses. The reign of terror and impunity continues. In 2007, the US Senate examined the human rights record of Arroyo and heard the complaints of several Filipinos. Later, the US Congress put human rights conditions to US military aid, a requirement the Arroyo has failed.

Regarding journalists, while most of those killed may be due to local issues, the Arroyo government’s refusal to act on the slays is widely viewed as a vindictive act by the President against many segments of the media whose crime is to perform their job well: to demand accountability and transparency, criticize government policies, expose scandals and champion free expression.

Filipinos in the US and Americans sympathetic to the plight of Filipinos and who wish a change in US policy on the Philippines are not about to let Arroyo have a fiesta in the US. They will stage a picket protest right in front of the White House, a democratic act expressly prohibited by Arroyo to be held near Malacanang Palace.

Political leaders and personalities have written Obama about these and other concerns:

July 29, 2009

Washington District of Columbia
United States of America

Dear Mr. President,

We shared the wonderful jubilation of the American people during your historic election triumph. When you assumed office early this year, we rejoiced at the audacious hope that you inspired, and on your promise of change for the common good.

We joined all freedom loving people of the world who exulted when you declared that “those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent… are on the wrong side of history.”

The Filipino people share the same morals, ideals, and aspirations that define the envied way of life of the American people. Filipinos yearn for the same kind of leaders that the American people yearn for themselves; leaders who are imbued with the right values, lead principled lives, and govern with the highest ethical standards. The ideals of justice, democracy and the upliftment of human rights animate the Filipino people’s dreams of a better world in much the same way that these ideals animate the dreams of the American people.

Upon your invitation, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will have the chance to meet with you on July 30, 2009. In your meeting with Ms. Arroyo, it may serve you well to be mindful of Ms. Arroyo’s legacy of corruption, extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, bribery, election cheating, among others. We do not wish to belabor you with the details of these high crimes which have surely been documented and reported by the U.S. State Department to your Office.

The Filipino people also yearn for change from the effrontery of hopelessness and the curse of decadence that Ms. Arroyo represents. In your meeting with Ms. Arroyo, we feel confident that you will make clear to her that a Government that does not comply with Principles of Democracy and respect for Human Rights cannot have the approval and support of your administration. We implore you Mr. President to inspire hope and be an instrument of change for the common good of the long suffering Filipino people.


Teofisto T. Guingona Jr.
Former Vice President

Jovito R. Salonga
Former Senate President

Franklin Drilon
Former Senate President

Camilo D. Quiazon
Former Supreme Court Justice

Wigberto E. Tañada
Former Senator

Sergio R. Osmeña III
Former Supreme Court Justice

Vicente T. Paterno
Former Senator

Agapito A. Aquino
Former Senator

Josefina T. Lichauco
Former Cabinet Secretary/CCM

Francisco I. Chavez
Former Solicitor General

Corazon J. Soliman
Former Cabinet Secretary

Juan Santos
Former Cabinet Secretary

Jejomar C. Binay
Mayor, Makati City

Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva
National Chairman, PJM

Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB
Co-Chairperson, AMRSP

Harry L. Roque Jr.

Jun I. Lozada
State Witness, ZTE-NBN

What can we do? Plenty. You can send Obama a message, repost this letter and the schedule of protests, blog about the issues, and if you are in DC, join the rally!


  1. tonyo

    No problem, Bruce.

    Check out the Bayan USA link in the article for a more complete list of mass actions. I think a number of churches are organizing prayer vigils.

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