By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Pepsi La Loma
MANILA, Philippines-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is exploiting her 7-day foreign trip to the United States, Spain and Vietnam to create a national and international image that she’s not a lameduck president and still in effective control of the government.
“This 7-day trip to US, Spain and Vietnam is another super roadshow presentation that seeks to promote and project President Arroyo before the eyes of the international community as a working president and that she’s still the head of the state and not a lameduck, has-been, aging and detested President of this country,” the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a press statement.
Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap asserted that Malacanang is exploiting these foreign trips also to convince the public that Mrs. Arroyo remains a high esteemed official in Southeast Asia and enjoys a high level of respect in the international community despite her government’s unbridled crimes of corruption and long-running grave violations of basic human rights in the country.
“These foreign trips scheduled by Malacanang for President Arroyo appear like a publicity stunt rather than official state functions for diplomatic purposes. The taxpayers will again shell millions of taxpayers money for Arroyo’s propaganda offensive before the international community,” the Pamalakaya official added.
Based on the itinerary released by Malacanang last Monday, President Arroyo is set to visit Madrid, Spain’s capital city on April 15 and 16 to receive the Premio Internacional Don Quijote de la Mancha Award for promoting the Spanish language and culture in the Philippines. The Palace said Mrs. Arroyo will have a chance to meet with King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia.
“Imagine, millions of people’s money will be spent for this not so important event. Que barbaridad,” said Pamalakaya.
President Arroyo is scheduled to be in Hanoi, Vietnam, on April 8 and 9 for the 16th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the summit would have for its theme “Toward the ASEAN Community: From Vision into Action,” and would focus on the grouping’s concrete actions to realize its goal of one community by 2015.
Between the Vietnam and Spain trips, Malacanang said President will fly to Washington in the United States for the Nuclear Security Summit. The prepared itinerary for President Arroyo said the Chief Executive and her entourage Ms Arroyo would return to Manila after the ASEAN summit to prepare for the Washington affair on April 12 and 13.
Pamalakaya advised President Arroyo to recall her scheduled trips to Vietnam, US and Spain and take a definite leave of absence so that she could attend to the need of her husband- First Gentleman Atty. Jose Miguel Arroyo who is set to be discharged anytime on Wednesday from St. Luke’s Hospital in Taguig City afer suffering serious back pain due to new tear in his aorta, the heart’s main artery.
“Why not take an indefinite leave of absence? Why go on foreign trips? The First Gentleman is the only people in this country that needs her,” the group said.