Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So what if Arroyo is in HK while Mayon burns

By Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:55:00 12/23/2009

Filed Under: Holidays or vacations, Mayon, Graft & Corruption

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—What does it matter if President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is vacationing in Hong Kong as residents of Albay province flee the expected eruption of Mayon Volcano?

Gary Olivar, the President’s deputy spokesperson, sees no problem.

Ms Arroyo had earlier skipped a crucial, make-or-break session at the United Nations’ climate change summit in Copenhagen, supposedly to attend to the Mayon crisis.

It turned out she had other plans. She, her husband, their children and grandchildren flew to Hong Kong on Sunday, the day after she arrived from Denmark.

“Her physical presence is not needed,” Olivar Tuesday told reporters in the course of assailing those questioning Ms Arroyo’s absence in the face of yet another brewing calamity.

“I would describe them as people of small minds, cold hearts and mean spirit—totally without place in the holidays,” he said of her critics.

Olivar said criticisms of the President’s three-day Hong Kong getaway intended as a treat to her four grandchildren were “unfair” considering her “legendary passion for her work and the kind of hours she puts in.”

Only 2 hours away

Volcanologists have predicted that a major explosion by Mayon would occur within days, prompting even the most obstinate resident to leave the permanent danger zone.

But Olivar defended the First Family’s vacation in Hong Kong, pointing out that the former British territory was only less than two hours from Manila in case it became necessary for the President to return home quickly.

He also said Ms Arroyo had a standing order for authorities to ensure that no resident would be allowed to stay in the permanent danger zone.

“Everything is in place,” Olivar said. “Things should be managed by the crisis committee on the ground.”

He refused to give details of the First Family’s itinerary in Hong Kong, saying the affair was strictly private.

Ms Arroyo is scheduled to return to Manila on Wednesday. She is to spend Christmas Eve on Thursday in her home province of Pampanga, where she is running for a congressional seat in the May 2010 elections.

Olivar had earlier admitted that Ms Arroyo would reach out to voters during the Christmas Eve visit: “I would imagine that while she’s there, she would take the opportunity to visit her neighbors, her constituents, obviously her voters that she needs to be concerned about in next year’s elections.”

No ceasefire

Holiday season or not, the critics of the administration cannot be silenced.

“We criticize to stop something. But if cheating [and] stealing continue to go on, there is a need to speak out,” Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano told reporters.

“We wish [the First Family] a merry Christmas, but we hope the stealing and anomalies would stop in this country,” he said.

His sister, Sen. Pia Cayetano, said public servants like Ms Arroyo were accountable for their actions the minute they get elected into office until they step down.

“So if you have been acting in a way that is subject to a lot of criticism, I don’t think you can ask for a ceasefire,” Pia Cayetano told reporters in a separate interview.

“You cannot ask people to look the other way, as this government has chosen to in the face of so many flagrant violations of the Constitution and of the law,” she said.

The senator added that Ms Arroyo’s critics could not be silent when many corruption cases were not moving in the Office of the Ombudsman. With a report from Christine O. AvendaƱo

Original Story:

No comments:

Post a Comment