A cut above the rest

"Gloria Arroyo's diligence is legendary."




No matter how the Chinese Embassy and Beijing try to downplay the ramming of a Filipino fishing vessel by saying that it was an ordinary maritime incident, from the looks of it and upon the testimony of the 21 crew members, it was clearly a case of hit and run.

Let’s look at what happened. First, the Chinese vessel rammed the Filipino boat with all its lights on, while the crew members were asleep.

Second, after this, the Chinese vessel turned around and fled while the Filipino vessel was sinking.

Third, knowing that the crew were already in the water, frantic to save themselves, the Chinese did not even try to save their lives. This would have been the normal thing to do given any accident.

The excuse given by the Chinese Embassy that their vessel had to turn away because it was being attacked by other Filipino vessels is pure baloney. A lot of bull!

From the looks of it, the claim that some eight Filipino fishing vessels tried to retaliate just does not add up. Why was it a Vietnamese vessel that saved the Filipino crew? The argument simply insults our intelligence. The Chinese must think that we Filipinos are stupid.

Pursue reparations! Make them pay!

What is tragic about this incident is that the President’s spokesman said we still can’t cut ties with China, even if it is found that the Chinese vessel acted intentionally. Worse, the President has been mum about the incident.

The hit and run becomes doubly tragic when we Filipinos are not outraged. Why don’t we march and protest? Why don’t we shout “enough is enough” about the way China is trampling on our sovereignty?

Contrast this with what is happening in Hong Kong, where people showed their outrage over a bill that would enable Beijing to extradite Hong Kong offenders to show cause why they should not be punished for wrongdoing.

As a result, the bill has been suspended.

The protesters did not relent despite the brutality of the Hong Kong police.

Here in the Philippines, is seems that only media and some opposition senators are expressing outrage over the incident. And why isn’t the President saying anything?

Have we been cowed into silence?

* * *

Outgoing House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said that upon her retirement from politics, she will write her memoirs and be a consultant to Pampanga Governor Pineda in developing her home province.

Gloria’s political history is worth writing about, indeed. Her story started when she was a young girl, a presidential daughter.

The next time I met Gloria was when she became undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry and administrator of the Garments and Embroidery Board. My wife’s nephew, Willie Villarama, sought me out to meet the GEB head to explain her side during the fight between the Textile Mills Association and the GEB over smuggling. The former was accusing the latter of smuggling.

When I saw Gloria and she explained the side of the GEB, I was convinced that all claims of smuggling were overboard. The textile mills group just wanted the GEB abolished.

The next time I heard of Gloria was when she topped the Senate race. I was impressed with how hardworking she was. She filed many bills that were enacted into law. That led to her being elected Vice President.

At that time, Gloria used to visit our house in Ecology Village to buy paintings for gifts to friends. We became close to her such that when my youngest son Nicky got married, she, together with Estrada, were principal sponsors.

When Erap was ousted and Gloria became President in 2001, I expressed my sympathy about the ouster and that it was machinations of people around Gloria that were responsible for it. She sent her private legal counsel, Nonong Cruz, to fetch me to see her.

We had a meeting where she appealed to me to support her and not fault her for Erap’s ouster.

How can you refuse a P-resident who appeals to you? I said I would support her on one condition —if she does good, I will support her. But if I believe her actions and statements are not for the greater good of the greatest number, then I wouldn’t.

She said—“That’s good enough for me!” For that, I admired her.

Since then, whenever controversies and issues hounded her presidency, I supported her. I knew how sincere she was. I did so even during the Hello Garci scandal, when the opposition accused her of rigging the 2004 polls. I was proven right—the courts ultimately dismissed charges against her for election sabotage.

Likewise, when Gloria was charged for favoring a Chinese broadband firm to install a nationwide network, I also stood by her. That whistleblower who made himself famous at that time was found to have committed graft and corruption in a government agency!

Gloria’s critics made the issue more scandalous since the socio-economic planning secretary and the Comelec chairman were involved. The Arroyos were seen playing golf with the executives of the Chinese firm.

Later, all these were disproven, and the issue eventually died down.

The greatest challenge of Gloria was the resignation of the so-called Hyatt 10 from her administration. They attempted to install a new president who could be manipulated.

To this end, then-Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Budget Secretary Butch Abad went to Hong Kong to convince then-Vice President Noli de Castro to take the place of Gloria. But De Castro refused to do their bidding.

I also supported her in this because I did not believe the Hyatt 10 were interested in truth and justice. They were hypocrites and opportunists who simply wanted to hold on to power through a president they could manipulate.

The most tragic thing for Gloria was her four years of hospital detention by direct orders of then-President Benigno Aquino III. Aquino ordered then-Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to prevent her from seeking overseas treatment for her debilitating ailment.

Among all the President, Gloria was the most hardworking and honest. Unfortunately, there were some around her who took advantage of her presidency.

One thing stood out during her presidency. As an economist, she instituted fiscal and economic reforms to a point that at the end of her term, the country achieved the highest-ever GDP growth of 7.9 percent, still unmatched.

When she ran for Congress, she had an overwhelming victory.

And when she became House Speaker, she knew the priorities of President Duterte. Records showed that over 2,000 bills, many of them urgent, were passed. She curtailed many resolutions to conduct investigations. She attended committee hearings.

Indeed she is a cut above the rest.

Topics: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo , Chinese Embassy , Fishing boat , Cesar Purisima , Butch Abad
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