Dear Fellow Correspondents, Midwives and Friends,
Hi! How's everyone? Life seems to be very busy but I really tried to catch up early this time. I'm so sorry for not giving you my feedback, i just don't know how but rest assured that i really admire all the efforts and the beauty of each aricles. Is just that , i feel incapable of feedbacking. I hope after this second draft, i can have even a small time to give you my words. Thank you so much and best wished to everybody! Keep up the high spirit!
My heart seems to stop when I heard the news about the controversial lavish dinners of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her entourage in her recent US state visit. In both expensive restaurant of New York City’s Le Cirque Restaurant and Washington DC’s Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, the group paid $20,000 and $15,000 respectively. This is sheer display of callousness amid the hunger and poverty of the Filipino people and the 400,000 Americans who lost their jobs in 2008 due to economic recession.
In today’s economic meltdown, developing countries like the Philippines is worse hit. Everyday more than thousands of Filipinos mostly women are out of jobs. Factories and small enterprises are closing down. According to international survey, the Philippines ranked fifth among the hungry countries in the world. Four million Filipino children are malnourished and 52 million out of 92 million Filipinos are hungry everyday. Despite job retrenchment abroad more Filipino women are still going overseas for jobs.
Yet, this woman, Philippine President Arroyo who always goes overseas dined lavishly as if there is no recession and poverty. She can afford to eat million worth dinner from people’s money with no remorse. This controversial dinner sparked outrage among Filipinos both domestic and abroad. In defense of President Arroyo, the Palace spokeperson said that the amount is small compare to the billion of dollars the country benefited from the president’s travel abroad. Among those cited were the $6.2 billion in investments and other forms of financial assistance, as well as US military assistance and aid for Mindanao.
What an arrogance and desperate move to justify such act of indecency! Reality shows that the benefits out from the President’s foreign trips are hardly felt by the Filipino people. Those who are in power benefited much as showed by their ostentation lifestyles. German-based Transparency International in its annual CPU index which measures a country from 0-10 with 0 rating equivalent to absolute corruption, the Philippines garnered a 2.5 rating for 2007, making it one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Just recently, a woman Philippine Navy Junior Officer Lieutenant Senior Grade Nancy Gadian revealed a multi-million corruption in the Joint Philippine –US Military War Exercises in 2007.
Mrs. Arroyo’s trip to the US cost the taxpayers a total of P 37 million. Yet, the people did not gain anything. Arroyo’s US state visit definitely further government’s bankruptcy and subservience to US loans and aids. The 45 minute talk between US President Obama and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal –Arroyo highlighted Arroyo’s appointment as the regional coordinator of the US War on Terror in ASEAN countries. Obama praised Arroyo’s accomplishment in her counter-terror effort including her statement on Burma human rights abuses. There was no mention of American soldiers continued presence in the country and their direct participation in combat operations. There was no mention of continued human rights violations and abuses in the Philippines committed by Arroyo’s government. Definitely, President Arroyo’s lavish dinner was a celebration of renewed ties of unequal foreign relations between the post colonial slave and post colonial master.
The Filipino women's movement together with other movements both here and abroad must therefore heed the strong challenge for social change against corruption, arrogance display of power, extravagance and puppetry in time of hunger and poverty. As we Filipinos commemorated in August 21, the 26th assassination anniversary of Former Senator “Ninoy “Aquino from the Marcos dictatorship, we must live Ninoy’s legacy of continuing the fight against tyranny, dictatorship and colonialism. We have to demand accountability of government’s abuse of power and corrupt practices. We must not forget the darkest years of our history and the men and women martyrs who sacrificed their lives for us and for our freedom. Let our hearts continue beating in unison with fire of love and freedom.