Tag archive for "Gloria Macapagal Arroyo"

GMA EMBRACES HOUSEWIFE ROLE

Current Affairs

GMA EMBRACES HOUSEWIFE ROLE

No Comments 07 April 2011

By Nathalie Tomada

The Freeman

Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is nicely adjusting to a less stressful and hurried life even as she embraces the housewife role she said she never had before.

In her first media interview since leaving the presidency last June, the congresswoman of Pampanga’s second district looked relaxed in a light blue dress, smiling and seemingly at peace with herself and the world despite the controversies that continue to hound her.

Arroyo talked about the more domestic role she has just embraced. She welcomed this writer into her Quezon City home and showed their family portrait that showed her as a young wife and mother at 22, with husband Jose Miguel and eldest son Mikey, taken at the garden swing that is still on the front lawn.

“Now, I’m getting a life that I did not have even then,” she begins. “I married and I lived in this house with my in-laws. My mother-in-law would cook and was very tolerant, up to my last toilet paper she provided, and then she had a terrific mayordoma (housekeeper) who had been the yaya (nanny) of my husband since he was born. She helped in my career because she took care of the house and everything. I didn’t have to be a housewife. I was a wife.”

“My mother-in-law died when I didn’t yet enter politics and my mayordoma died when I was president,” she continued. “So, when I left the presidency, I came back to this house without a mother-in-law and mayordoma to run it. So I entered now the life of a housewife which I never had before.”

Her staff says that she notices everything, from flies to dust in the windows. Running the household, Arroyo says, “is very therapeutic; whenever I’m idle that’s what I do.”

10 pounds slimmer

There’s another change that has gone largely unnoticed. She just lost over 10 pounds, but she has not gone vegetarian, contrary to speculations on her new look.

“This just came about because of exercise and diet because I don’t have socials at night and I don’t have many breakfast meetings now. It’s still the same basic two hours of high-intensity exercise, and then I added 15 minutes for three days. I also eat only one full meal a day. Unless we’re socializing, my husband and I only have soup for dinner.”

Arroyo, who turned 64 on April 5, adds, “I decided to have a new hairdo for my new life.”

She just bought an iPad to download books, finished reading Game Change, a politically-themed book on the 2008 US elections, opened a Facebook account, watches American Idol, and joins the carpool to send her grandchildren to school.

Arroyo’s chief-of-staff Elena Bautista-Horn said the congresswoman’s pace is still very much like her workhorse pace when she was president.

“But she’s been adjusting to her now less punishing schedule and lean staff of six, among other things,” said Horn.

When asked if she might return to her first job as teacher, whose former students included President Benigno Aquino III, she said: “Maybe one day. Of course, I have many things to share now, all the economic theories that I actually applied and worked.”

The Arroyo house is decorated with photographs, including one taken of her as daughter of former President Diosdado Macapagal with then former US President John F. Kennedy at the White House – a gift from present US President Barack Obama.

The Arroyo residence is just a stone’s throw away from Ateneo de Manila University where she worked as a professor after graduating with an Economics degree from Assumption College.

“I chose teaching because it was a way of having a good balance between motherhood and career. The good thing about it was that for 12 hours of teaching a week and then some very flexible research time, there was plenty time to be with the children. Also, I would take the semester off after I gave birth. I read at that time that what an individual learns in his whole life he learns half of it before the age of 5. So I wanted to make sure I will be able to give them a lot of time before the age of five,” she said.

Spacing of children

Arroyo said that the birth of her children Mikey, Luli and Dato were well spaced, which had largely influenced her present responsible parenthood policy.

“I stress spacing rather than the number of children. It’s good for the health of the mother, of the baby, and of the relationship between mother and baby, mother and other children, mother and father, and the whole family.”

Explaining why she doesn’t link the issue of population with development, she said: “During the last global crisis, which were the economies that not only survived but also came out very strong? These were the big population countries with a good per capita income, one of which is the Philippines. So, of course, if you have a big population but the per capita income is very poor then it is still bad or you have high per capita income but your population is very small like Singapore, you also suffer. You really need those two ingredients. The Philippines had those two ingredients. In the last year before the economic crisis, we had 7 percent growth rate; we had already graduated to the middle class per capita income. That’s why I don’t tie up population policy with development.”

This should clearly hint at where she stands as the battle lines are being drawn on the Reproductive Health Bill in Congress. “At least it didn’t pass under my term. It’s going to be a tough fight. We shall see.”

“I’ll tell you something, my father, when he was telling me about public service, for the public servant, the priority should be God first, then country, and family last. I used to think ‘what do you mean by God first and then country?’ then analyzing it, I came to realize because when thinking something good for the country, there are different policies, and some are more faith-based than the others, like pro-life. But fortunately also, [my parenthood policy] is grounded on reason and economic logic.”

Keeping emotions private

Asked whether the challenges of the presidency were responsible for this faith and religiosity, she says, “No, no, I’ve always been religious. I learned it from the nuns in school. Not from my family because my mother was not particularly religious.”

From her mother Eva Macaraeg, nevertheless, she inherited the sternness and know-how in languages and learned that whatever is private – like emotions – should remain private.

It was also perhaps her mother who provided her first connection to Cebu, which famously delivered her 1 million votes during the 2004 presidential elections. “You know, my mother said she spent the best years of her life in Cebu. She was the carnival queen of Cebu at the age of 16.”

She also fondly recalled an acting stint in a Cebu soap opera when she was senator. “It was done in Carcar. I played a mother of a rape victim. They didn’t require me to cry but they required me to be sad. But the one who played my daughter was so good that I actually cried.”

While she was recruited to enter politics in the late 1970s for the opposition ticket, Arroyo says that it was only when she topped the senatorial elections in 1995 that her father, who passed away in 1997, began to think of the possibility that she might follow in his footsteps.

“I would say that among all the historical figures that I’ve come across with either personally or vicariously, my father has been the biggest influence on me. Everything about the family and private life was my mother, and everything about public service was my father. He didn’t meddle on how we were raised, and he expected my mother not to meddle also in his governance,” she said.

“He had said that the presidency is a position not to be enjoyed but you have to work hard for the good of the people and necessarily, you have to suffer. And he suffered because he worked 20 hours a day. He had a silent heart attack when he was president, which we didn’t know until much later on.”

“I got that focus from my father, although I didn’t work for 20 hours when I was president. I did about 12 because I had to make sure I would have one-hour exercise twice a week and seven hours of sleep.”

Asked how her father would think of her now if he were still alive, she says after some pause: “For my father, he thought we were the worthiest people. He was a very, very affirming father. Our choices were his choices. Before, when I was about to do something, he would advice. But after I’ve done something, his concern was if I did the right thing.”

Proud of accomplishments

Amid controversies that beset her presidency and which prompted the lowest approval ratings upon her exit, Arroyo still believes that she had accomplished what she set out to do.

“Considering that our political culture is so negative, what’s more important is that the progress that we worked for speaks for itself. From day one that’s what I tried to do – tried to have permanent change in the economy of the Philippines so that it can have our growth sustainable and move into the first world within 20 years,” said Arroyo.

“And I feel that I was able to do a lot in that direction. First of all, we had unprecedented 38 quarters of consecutive growth, never, never happened before. And then I left the economy with a 7.9 percent growth rate, better than what I started with. And at 7.9 percent, what does it mean? Nine million new jobs, more people with healthcare and education, especially for those who didn’t have access to it before, there’s the RORO (roll on-roll off ships of the nautical highway) that connected our nation like never before, and from almost nothing, we have become a BPO (business process outsourcing) powerhouse, all the while we were paying our financial obligations. And then if you just look at the skyline of Manila and of Cebu, how they have changed in the past 10 years. There are more buildings, malls, small businesses.”

Asked to react to criticisms that these gains have not trickled down to the poorest of the poor, she said: “First of all, the poverty rate has gone down in my administration compared to the previous years. But of course, if you’re talking about from 49 to 23 percent of whatever it is, there’s still that number that are poor.”

Unwilling to offer any criticism to her most vocal of critics, she explains, “What for? I’ve never returned the negative feelings. I’m only matapang (stern) to people accountable to me. I get mad because of what they did, not the person.”

Choosing battles

Horn, who is also Arroyo’s current spokesperson, adds, “Even now, we will speak when we need to speak. We choose our battles. We choose issues we comment on. Why glorify them?”

There were times when the urge to engage was strong, but Arroyo says, “Maybe because as what St. Paul said, ‘Let God be your lawyer’… I don’t get out of my way to reach out; on the other hand, I don’t do an aggressive act.”

Looking back, does she feel she has been under-appreciated and unfairly judged?

“Well, I would have wished that there was less negativism. That’s part of what I’ve been saying about how I see the Philippines. We’re not one country but we’re like two countries with the same name. There’s the one Philippines, that’s the economy, which after many years of cumulative effort, we’re taking off. Then there’s the other Philippines, which is the political system, after many years of degeneration also, it’s becoming a hindrance to progress.”

“I tried to be philosophical about it,” she summed up her experiences, including the crises, the sacrifices, and the tumult. “You know, it was a big honor to serve the Philippines, I am gratified because I was able to deliver what I wanted to do.”

Asked if she looks forward to the day when history will cast her in a more positive light, Arroyo said: “Of course I care, but most importantly, I let God take care of the rest.”

PHOTO: GMA and family members attending a Mass.

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ARROYO’S FEAR

Current Affairs

ARROYO’S FEAR

1 Comment 03 March 2010

By Marites Dañguilan Vitug

What is happening in two countries not far from us must be giving President Arroyo the chills. Last week, Thailand’s Supreme Court ruled that former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra should be stripped of more than half of his contested $2.3 billion fortune. These assets, the Court said, were gained illegally when Thaksin was prime minister. He abused his power to benefit the companies that he owned. Earlier, in January, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the government to reopen cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, citing President Ferdinand Marcos and other heads of state who were taken to court to answer corruption charges. The Supreme Court asked the government to account for $600 million in Zardari’s bank accounts in Switzerland. FULL STORY.

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SHOWDOWN WITH GMA: SOMEBODY’S GOT TO DO IT

Current Affairs

SHOWDOWN WITH GMA: SOMEBODY’S GOT TO DO IT

No Comments 16 February 2010

By Tonette Orejas

Porac, Pampanga — It’s a Friday afternoon and Adonis Simpao is in the company of more than 20 public school teachers. The meeting, which the teachers requested three weeks ago, is finally pushing through in Barangay Pias here.

Simpao apologizes for not finding time much earlier, bowing his head as he entered the backyard of the host-teacher. It turned out that more than a month before the actual campaign period, this Liberal Party candidate in Pampanga’s second congressional district already has a full schedule.

“I get invitations to talk in small crowds of teachers, farmers, workers, students, parents, out-of-school youth, traders, laity, senior citizens, drivers, pastors,” the 41-year-old architect says.

By all measure, that’s quite a feat considering Simpao’s unenviable and abject situation. But whether the residents reach out to him because they support him and want to know what he has to offer or because they are merely curious to meet the modern-day David is another matter. And whether he stands a Chinaman’s chance to win is an entirely different (sob) story.

To say that Simpao is facing an uphill electoral battle is the understatement of the coming May election. His fellow cabalen – and the whole nation, for that matter – believe that the battle for the congressional seat in the second district of this province is finished long before it began. Simpao is making history for battling an incumbent President in an electoral contest for a lower position that is unheard of in our history. Come May 10, there won’t be an iota doubt that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be the “hands down winner,” in the words of Rey Roquero, executive director of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD party. (There are two aspirants aside from Simpao — Feliciano Serrano, an engineer and Filipinas Sampang, wife of a doctor – who are both running as independent candidates.)

It’s all-go for GMA

Last Jan. 28 the second division of the Commission on Elections officially lowered the boom on Simpao’s aspirations when it dismissed the petition of Akbayan Rep. Rissa Hontiveros to disqualify Mrs. Arroyo from running for a congressional seat in Pampanga and ruled that the President was not prohibited by the Constitution to run under a lower position. Hontiveros has asked the Supreme Court to reverse the poll body’s ruling.

Hontiveros also claimed that the President, by refusing to vacate her post after filing her candidacy for Congress, will be violating the constitutional provision regarding “equal protection of the law.”

“As current President, she has all the powers and resources as well as access to it that will definitely prejudice the chances of any opposing candidate in any electoral competition against her,” she said.

According to Hontiveros, the President spent around P459 million in infrastructure projects in her district last year. “That’s the most compelling reason why she should be disqualified from running. As the highest official of the land, virtually no one, not a sitting legislator and especially not an ordinary civilian like Mr. Adonis Simpao, can compete with the resources that she has at her disposal,” she said. Malacañang has disputed the figure cited by Hontiveros.

Simpao says he is not surprised by the poll body’s decision. “That was expected. That division and the Comelec are known not to decide on issues of public interests,” he said.

He concedes that Mrs. Arroyo has undue advantage because as sitting President she has almost unlimited access to government resources. She visited the second district 50 times during the past year (that translates to one visit per week), handing out various dole outs and infrastructure projects.

Somebody’s got to do it

Despite the great odds, Simpao is unperturbed and bent on pursuing the fight to the end.

Kailangang ating libutad (Somebody has to take the fight),” he said in the local dialect, explaining why he decided to file his candidacy a few hours before the deadline last December. “The second district needs a true representative. If Mrs. Arroyo really loves us Kapampangan, why didn’t she run as governor instead? She seems to have other interests, like being Speaker or Prime Minister.”

Back to the huddle in the yard, the teachers began sharing their thoughts on the May election before grilling Simpao on his platform on education, agriculture and environment.

His answers are direct. “As a legislator, I will bring and protect the people’s interests in Congress because I have no interests other than theirs, especially the poor. Public funds will be used properly, without graft. Infrastructure projects will be done based on the needs of the people, not because I or any contractors want to make money,” he explains. “I will serve with fear in God and respect for His commandments.”

Simpao talks more like a community organizer than a candidate. Humble and dressed modestly in an inexpensive shirt, he listens intently as his cabalen detail their problems and aspirations. His friends Eddie and Janet Ayen share that a number of times Simpao was mistaken for a worker because he usually slings a hand towel on his shoulder.

Rich girl, poor boy

Unlike President Arroyo who was born into power and wealth, Simpao, the eldest of 11 children, came from a poor family. His late father Pablo farmed a small plot of Riceland and built deep wells to support his family. His mother Cecilia ran a sari-sari store and sold vegetables she grew in the backyard for the daily baon to school of the children.

He was barely 16 and in third year high school when he chaired the chapter of the League of the Filipino Students at Don Honorio Ventura College of Arts and Trade (DHVCAT) in Bacolor town. The militant group led the mass walkout of students at the school to protest the murder of labor leader Rolando Olalia, a native of Bacolor, in 1984. They also held marches and pickets against the National Service Law and tuition fee hikes.

“It was easy to understand poverty and fight for an end to this form of injustice because we were poor,” he says.

After finishing one semester of an architectural course at DHVCAT, his parents asked him to stop schooling for lack of money. Not wanting to be a burden to the family, he worked as a waiter in a restaurant in Olongapo City and later as a janitor in a bank. After finishing a short course in computer programming, he joined a construction firm, serving as timekeeper, warehouseman and laborer. With his meager income, he resumed his architecture studies, enrolling in evening classes at the Technological Institute of the Philippines in Manila. In 1992 he was thrust again into the LFS leadership at TIP after the chapter chair went missing. He presided over the student council from 1993 until his graduation in 1994.

After short stints at Allied Bank and F. J. Jacinto Roofing, Simpao partnered with his four engineer brothers – a geodetic, a civil, an electrical and a sanitary engineer – to set up a company in 1998 offering design, construction and contracting services to local clients. His modest income has enabled him to build for his wife and three children a modest bungalow that remains unfinished until now, seven years after he started it.

Nothing personal

The Guagua native emphasizes that there is nothing personal about his fight with President Arroyo. “Hindi si Pangulong Arroyo ang kinakalaban natin kundi ang sistemang dala ng mga tradisyunal na pulitikong tulad niya,” he explains.

He agreed to enter the political fray when at the last minute no one had wanted to challenge Mrs. Arroyo. He said Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio was frantically urging prospective candidates until the last two hours before the deadline for the filing of candidacy. “Naghanap tayo ng puwedeng itapat sa Pangulo, pero walang gustong lumaban hanggang huling minuto. Kaya kinailangan nating manindigan.”

Simpao is fully cognizant of the odds he faces – “money, machinery, connections.” But he remains undaunted and even professes a healthy dose of guarded optimism.

“I decided to make a go to prove a point that we Kapampangans are standing up to her,” he says. “We are not a coward people. Kapampangans are decent people. . . We Kapampangans proved we are on the side of good in 2007. I believe this will still be the case in 2010.”  (In 2007 former priest Among Ed Panlilio trounced two close allies of Mrs. Arroyo – then Gov. Mark Lapid and Lubao Mayor Lilia Pineda.)

The coming electoral contest, according to him, is not about him but a “test for Kapampangans. . . Will they stand up for what is right and good and do the country a favor? That’s worth seeing this May.”

PHOTO: Adonis Simpao (left) with Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo.

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2010 ELECTION: WHY CHOOSE THE LESSER EVIL?

Politics

2010 ELECTION: WHY CHOOSE THE LESSER EVIL?

2 Comments 24 January 2010

By Joe Rivera

This coming national election in the Philippines will not be an ordinary one. While a successor to incumbent president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be crowned, the election can also be a prelude to a possible shift to a parliamentary system of government if Arroyo wins her congressional seat in Pampanga and becomes the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. READ FULL STORY.

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GLORIA’S GAMBIT

Politics

GLORIA’S GAMBIT

No Comments 24 January 2010

By Leandro Milan

Claiming public service was “emblazoned on my DNA (genetic fingerprint),” President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo stunned the nation when she declared on Nov. 30 that she was running for Congress in the coming elections. She said she would remain in her post even after she had filed her certificate of candidacy.

Her announcement was welcomed by her most ardent supporters but condemned by her critics, who accused her plotting to extend her hold on power as a way to escape criminal prosecution when she steps down from the presidency. When her term expires on June 30, 2010, Mrs. Arroyo, 62, shall have served as president for nine and a half years (three and a half years are from Joseph Estrada’s unfinished term), making her the second-longest serving Philippine leader after the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled for more than 20 years. According to surveys, she is the most unpopular leader the country has had since Marcos was booted out in 1986.

Mrs. Arroyo said her decision to seek a congressional post was due to her desire to continue serving and to heed what she called a “clamor” by her province mates for her to serve them. “After much contemplation, I realized I’m not ready to step down completely from public service,” she said on the government-run Radyo ng Bayan.

This is the first time that a President is running for a lower position, an idea that no one thought would ever happen. Even the framers of the Constitution failed to consider this scenario. Section 4 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution states, “The President shall not be eligible for any re-election.” But the Charter is silent on whether the President could run again for a lower position.

Weekly visits

While Mrs. Arroyo’s announcement maybe shocking, even shameless, to some, it was not completely surprising. During the past year, she has made 47 visits to the second district of Pampanga (18 of them to her hometown Lubao). This translates to nearly one trip a week. During her visits, she would be accompanied by staff from various government agencies and give away free PhilHealth cards, seedlings, medicines and cash for microfinance projects. Acting on the requests of barangay leaders, she would order the construction and repair of schools, roads, health centers, canals and dikes. To her cabalen, the presidential largesse is like manna from heaven.

On Nov. 28, two days before the President’s announcement, the President’s elder son, Pampanga 2nd District Representative Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, led a contingent of over 200 mayors, barangay captains and other local officials of Pampanga in a call on his mother in Malacañang.

“My dear mother, in your decision-making, my sentiments must be taken as inconsequential,” Mikey said in his speech. “My political future must be brought to the back seat because as public servants, we have sworn to give our all to our country. . . Madame President, I believe that the best service I can give to my constituents, whom I’ve grown to love so much, is urging you not to deny them the privilege of being represented by your person.” Mikey is eligible to seek reelection but is giving way to his mother.

The congressman noted the steady stream of farmers, fisherfolk, businessmen and civic leaders trooping to the Palace “to express their desire that they be given the privilege of being represented by … a stateswoman with the stature of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.” On Nov. 27, some 200 leaders from farming and fishing communities, as well as representatives from cooperatives and business organizations from the second district of Pampanga presented the President with a manifesto urging her to run in 2010.

Where’s delicadeza?

Up against three unknowns, the President is a sure winner in the congressional race. There is near unanimity in the belief that there are no legal impediments to the President running for Congress. But this did not deter Akbayan Rep. Rissa Hontiveros from filing before the Commission on Elections a petition to disqualify Mrs. Arroyo from running in Pampanga. Hontiveros argued that the President, by refusing to vacate her post after filing her candidacy for Congress, will be violating the constitutional provision regarding “equal protection of the law.”

“As current President, she has all the powers and resources as well as access to it that will definitely prejudice the chances of any opposing candidate in any electoral competition against her,” Hontiveros said.

But beyond the legalities, there are those who question her decision on moral grounds. Pampanga Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said Mrs. Arroyo should forsake her plans “in the name of decency and for the sake of propriety.”

“I’d appeal to her not to run and to respect the spirit of the Constitution instead of exploiting the letter of the law, which indeed does not categorically prohibit running for lower positions,” David said.

Fr. Joaquin Bernas, an expert on constitutional law and a member of the 1987 Constitutional Commission, shared David’s sentiment. “We never thought the President would be humble. If I were her, I would not seek a lower office,” he said.

Bernas, dean emeritus of the Ateneo College of Law, admitted there were no legal obstacles to stop Mrs. Arroyo should she decide to run for representative. “Now, delicadeza ibang bagay yan,” Bernas told reporters.

Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz said the framers of the Constitution did not think of imposing a ban on an outgoing president running for a lower office simply because “really there is no person in his or her sound mind who will do such a funny and demeaning political circus.”

Bishop David’s older brother, UP Professor Randy David, who backed out from his earlier plan to challenge Mrs. Arroyo, noted: “There are areas of social behavior where there are no explicit laws because in many instances, the existing custom, the existing sense of shame and sensitivity to what is regarded as decent or what we call delicadeza are deemed sufficient to keep people in line. You don’t need specific laws.”

Circuitous route to the top

Most of the President’s critics – from the political oppositon to Church, business and civic leaders – however believe her decision to run for Congress is just the first step to her aspirations to regain power. This is how they paint the grim scenario: she will aspire to become Speaker of the House of Representatives, then move to amend the Constitution to allow for a shift to a parliamentary form of government, and finally crown herself prime minister.

Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, running mate of Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, said, “Her ultimate goal is to become House Speaker and ram through her burning desire to change the Constitution. Since she cannot hope to beat Noynoy, her next best option is to render his victory useless and lead the change in the form of government.”

United Opposition president and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay voiced the same fears. “The real agenda is to … shift to a parliamentary form of government and snatch power from whoever is elected president in 2010 by becoming prime minister and head of government,” said Binay, who is the running mate of former President Joseph Estrada.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo said he suspected Mrs. Arroyo would finance the candidacies of many administration allies so that she could control majority of the House if she won.

According to them, it is only by regaining power as prime minister could she escape the deluge of suits that await her – from plunder to human rights abuses – after she steps down as president.

Unfounded fears

But Sen. Joker Arroyo, an on-and-off critic and ally of the President, dismisses the fears. He believes Mrs. Arroyo can never be prime minister.

“She is now very weak. She has no political clout; what more if she is only a congresswoman?” the senator asked. “She can never be prime minister because we have to amend first the Constitution. Since she cannot amend it, no way.”

He continued: “How can she succeed as speaker—she cannot do that—because the speaker of the next House will be the choice of whoever is the President. . . Chances are there will be no President that will support that—Noynoy won’t, Villar won’t, Erap won’t and even Teodoro won’t,” he said, referring to presidential candidates Benigno Aquino, Manuel Villar, Joseph Estrada and Gilbert Teodoro.

Senator Arroyo‘s observation was echoed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer. In its editorial last Dec. 2, the daily wrote: “In truth, however, and given the political realities, it will be difficult for a rookie representative, even a former president, to drive Charter change from a seat in the chamber. We have raised the threshold question before: If she could not effect a revision of the Constitution while she served as president, how can Ms Arroyo reasonably expect to change the Constitution as merely one of over 250 congressmen?”

Indeed, it is worth noting that Mrs. Arroyo’s allies in the House have tried vainly to ram through various proposals to amend the Constitution during the past two to three years. The influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has already made it known that while it was open to a constitutional amendment in the past, it is now rethinking its position if such a move would be used to perpetuate “a few people” in power.

In the 15th Congress, Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be joined by three other Arroyos: youngest son Camarines Sur 1st District Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Macapagal Arroyo; brother-in-law Negros Occidental 5th District Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo; and sister-in-law Ang Kasangga party-list Rep. Ma. Lourdes Arroyo. There are reports that Mikey Arroyo will be joining a party-list group so he can possibly stay in the House of Representatives.

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