CHICAGO — When President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will finally have face time and will be able to press flesh with her elusive quarry — President Barack Obama – during her state visit at the White House in Washington, D.C. this week, July 30, she should not expect too much. She should be conservative.
If she would propose some collaborative and elaborative programs with Mr. Obama, they should be time-sensitive. Meaning, doable only within a ten-month time framework before she bows out of office.
If she should embark on a program that will be accomplished past 2010, it will blow her cover for whatever plans she has up her sleeves.
Of course, the Filipino people have two Macapagals too many. And gauging by her and her father’s actions, their moves are now all too familiar and too predictable.
The Macapagals have already earned an unenviable reputation of saying one thing but doing another.
Before her father, former Vice President Diosdado Macapagal set his sights for the presidency, he made it clear to then Sen. Ferdinand Marcos that if Mr. Marcos would support him for the presidency under the Liberal Party, one four-year term is one too many for him. Mr. Macapagal might have some kind of quid pro quo – “if-you-scratch-my-back, I-will-scratch-yours” – with Mr. Marcos. I am not saying that both Marcos and Macapagal are monkeys who cannot scratch each others back. I am just saying that their families have been able to monkey around at the expense of the Filipino people.
CHIP OF THE OLD BLOCK
Then, Mr. Macapagal told Marcos that because he had no plans to run for re-election, he would support Mr. Marcos as president after his one and only term.
But in the middle of Mr. Macapagal’s presidency, he announced a five-year economic program called EEA (Emergency Employment Administration) that gave broad hints to Mr. Marcos that Mr. Macapagal was reneging his promise to Mr. Marcos.
It would become Mr. Macapagal’s albatross as Marcos bolted Macapagal’s ruling Liberal Party to join the rival Nacionalista Party and Marcos would make a history of sorts when he trounced an incumbent Philippine president from power.
A chip of the old block, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo would visit her father when she declared on Rizal Day in 2003 that she was not running for president, only to take back her word, and ran for president in 2004 that many believed was marred by massive cheating that was epitomized by the “Hello Garci” tapes.
Traditionally, the year before a presidential election when the incumbent Philippine president would visit the White House, the U.S. president becomes a generous host by offering financial help to a Philippine president who is supporting a candidate or in the case of Marcos, who was running for re-election.
I was a witness to this in the 1986 snap presidential elections. When Marcos visited the White House, Marcos was able to return to the Philippines with goodies, courtesy of the American government. The U.S. government released to Mr. Marcos millions of dollars in Economic Support Fund. I was looking at a very big peep hole of the Makati City police department, where the police officials were counting money inside several suitcases. The wads of money were bunches that appeared to have just come from a bank that one can only be seen in movies – that is, movies about drug dealers!
WILL SHE BRING HOME THE ESF BACON?
When I asked the late Makati Mayor Nemesio I. Yabut if the election money from Malacanang had arrived, he was pleasantly surprised that I came to know about it.
Unfortunately, the ESF Marcos obtained from Uncle Sam became meaningless when the Filipino people had seen enough of Marcos and sent him packing into exile during the EDSA Revolution in 1986.
So, when Mrs. Arroyo comes to the White House, with hat in her hand, she should make sure that the money that Uncle Sam gives her should go to the right pocket – his anointed presidential candidate – not in her or her husband’s rice sack-size pockets.
Otherwise, if her anointed candidate wins without her financial backing, Mrs. Arroyo might not be able to get a kid gloves treatment if she ends up in prison for corruption charges after her term office, just like her predecessor, Joseph Estrada. Nor, will she be able to get a pardon that she bestowed on Mr. Estrada.
Mrs. Arroyo should never make the mistake of spending the manna from the White House for herself if she plans to run for congresswoman in her own Pampanga district, assuming that the Philippines will switch from presidential to parliamentary system anytime soon.
Although, it is now too late in the day that the Philippine Congress could still be turned into a Constitutional Assembly (Con-Ass) thru Charter Change (Cha-Cha). Anything can still happen.
Or, will Mr. Obama break from tradition and forget about meddling in the Philippine Elections and leave Mrs. Arroyo holding an empty bag because of Mrs. Arroyo’s dismal human rights records,involvement in high-end corruption scandals and massive election cheatings?
We should be able to hear scuttle-butts of her visit from her very own trusted advisers.
For now, her enemies, who left her for dead every time a scandal unfolded, could only gasp in disbelief that Mr. Obama will ever honor Mrs. Arroyo with a White House invitation.
Just like Lazarus, who rose from the dead!