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Washington Times editorial jolted Manila top officials

Washington Times editorial jolted Manila top officials

Manila’s top Cabinet officials were jolted by the hard-hitting editorial of Washington Times on July 26 criticizing US President Barack Obama for arranging a meeting with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on July 30 in the United States.

Philippine Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said President Arroyo was not surprised on the scathing editorial of Washington Times entitled Obama: The Sanitizer which accused the embattled Arroyo of using the President Obama as a political tool to clear her troubles at home.

The editorial which came a day ahead of President Arroyo’s 9th and supposedly last State of the Nation Address said Obama committed a mistake when it invited the Philippine President to the White House on the premise that the Philippine top elected official is using Obama to give political cover for her troubles back home.

The Washington Times said Ms Arroyo’s domestic political position was precarious citing the Philippine President’s low approval rating and the growing anti-administration street protests in response to a dubious mandate following the fraud-rigged presidential elections in 2004 and scores of allegations of corruption against her husband First Gentleman Atty Jose Miguel Arroyo and members of her family and close political associates in and out of Malacañang Palace.

The editorial also scored Manila’s poor performance in upholding human rights in the Philippines. Quoting several reports and studies, Washington Times took note of the Arroyo administration’s failures to address and stop the killings of journalists and political activists in the country over the last 9 years.

The Washington Times also took a swipe on President Arroyo’s gameplan to perpetuate herself to power either through revision of the 1987 Constitution to allow her to extend her term or through the declaration of Martial Law.

According to Manila’s offensive against the publisher and editors of Washington Times, the conservative and right-leaning newspaper has existing ties with former House Speaker Jose de Venecia, a former Arroyo ally turned ardent critic of the Arroyo administration.

The Arroyo official also said Washington Times editorial director Brent Decker is the biographer of de Venecia and was biased in favor of Philippine opposition. Ms Arroyo’s press secretary said Washington Times is known for being critical with any US President, and the newspaper has it origin with The Moonies, an informal and derogative term for members of the Unification Church, a conservative Christian group led by Korean Sun Myeng Moon.

But critics of the Philippine President in Manila said President Arroyo and her close political associates were extremely rattled by the editorial of the Washington Times, asserting that the Manila government’s irresponsible reaction to the editorial further confirmed that the Manila government is always in the state of denial and state of political panic.

Pamalakaya fisherfolk alliance national chairperson Fernando Hicap said shockwaves sent by the Washington Times editorial caused irreparable damage to the Arroyo administration as shown by President Arroyo response which is dismissed by critics as plain rumor mongering and patently name calling to down play the political impact of the editorial criticizing Obama for entertaining President Arroyo at the White House.

The Pamalakaya leader said Washington Times merely reiterated the objective political condition in Manila and the crimes of President Arroyo ranging from grand scale corruption to election fraud to killings of political opponents and critics are all known to the international community and the Filipino public.

“The Washington Times editorial is a friendly reminder and a good political advice to President Obama. It just cautioned Obama and the American people on the serious implications of hosting a Southeast Asian leader notorious for denying the Filipino people of their electoral mandate and hated by the 90 million Filipinos for high crimes of corruption and extreme brutality,” said Hicap during a sideline interview on the occasion of Arroyo’s 9th State of the Nation Address.

This columnist in his own political capacity endorsed the Washington Times editorial and strongly urges US President Obama to call off the visit of Philippine President on July 30. The visit of President Arroyo will be politically damaging to and only a waste of time for the Obama administration. President Obama should attend to more important concerns rather than spending 30 minutes of his time to an undesirable Asian leader like President Arroyo.

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