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Dec 03rd
Home Columns Op-Ed Page Editorial: President Arroyo Must Go Back Home ASAP and Attend to Pressing Problems
Editorial: President Arroyo Must Go Back Home ASAP and Attend to Pressing Problems PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Op-Ed Page
Monday, 23 June 2008 03:06

Filipino-American community leaders must tell visiting Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to go home as soon as possible and attend to the pressing problems of the homeland. People must tell her that she cannot attend to the recent disaster of national magnitude by remote control. She cannot be talking to her subordinate officials by teleconferences, even if aired live on nationwide Filipino radio. Before she scolds more Filipino public servants publicly for their supposed errors, she must blame herself for not providing the right leadership in changing a corrupt system that is responsible for the routinary comedy of errors that plagues the country.


It has been the tradition of leaders – even of mere cities – who are on official trips abroad to return home on the first sign of trouble or disaster. Los Angeles (California) Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa cut short his trip in Central America when he learned of a clash between the Los Angeles Police Department and demonstrators on May 1, 2007. To read our report about the May 1, 2007, incident, please click on this link:

Fil-Am View of May-Day Clash at MacArthur Park And mind you, nobody even died at the MacArthur Park incident.


President Arroyo left Metro Manila just as typhoon Frank (international code-named Typhoon Fengshen) was approaching the nation’s capital. Earlier the moderately-strong typhoon had devastated areas from Mindanao all the way to Central Luzon. According to press reports, Typhoon Frank packed sustained winds of 74 miles per hour and gusts of up to 93 mph. It shifted course Sunday to the northwest and battered Manila at dawn, dumping heavy rain on the capital. Major streets were flooded, and numerous traffic lights were out.


The storm left at least 175 dead, submerging entire communities and setting off landslides, said Sen. Richard Gordon, head of the Philippine National Red Cross. There were concerns the death toll would jump dramatically. Damages to the country’s infrastructures and the economy, especially the agricultural section, are estimated to top several billions of pesos.


Perhaps the sentiment of many Filipinos and Overseas Filipinos is right that Gloria M. Arroyo is the biggest disaster to hit the Philippine Presidential Palace.The 72 people listed as missing did not include the more than 800 passengers and crew aboard the MV Princess of Stars, which sank as a result of the waves spawned by the typhoon off the Island of Romblon.


And yet, President Arroyo will not only be meeting with American leaders and rubbing elbows with American captains of industry but also tendering an expensive dinner in New York City for United Nations dignitaries, as if the Philippines could afford such frills.


The presidency is a serious business. It does not call for dancing the “Lambada” at the presidential palace with visiting Hollywood stars. It does not call for flying to Mindanao to accept the surrender of a serial-killer suspect who was reported to have eaten the brains of an Italian Catholic missionary whom he allegedly murdered. It does not call for a President to act like Santa Claus and dispense millions of pesos in cash as gifts to congressional and local-government leaders even when Christmas is months away. And certainly, it looks disastrous to leave the nation’s capital to fly to the United States just as a strong storm is approaching the most-populous area of the country.


Mrs. Arroyo must understand that even a lameduck President can still salvage her presidential legacy but only if she acts like a good parent of a family. It is not only ugly to see the head of the Filipino people dash off to a foreign country in the face of a looming natural calamity but also uglier to note that the Filipino President refused to cut her trip short to attend to the consequences of the disaster. In one way, perhaps the sentiment of many Filipinos and Overseas Filipinos is right that the Arroyo Dispensation is the biggest disaster to hit the Office of the Philippine President. # # #

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Last Updated on Saturday, 28 June 2008 15:43

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