Mother of Shamelessness NO HOLDS BARRED
(Daily Tribune) Armida Siguion-Reyna

NEW YORK — The story has Gloria Arroyo applying for a permit to build her own ark. “You need to put two of each kind in it,” said Noah, “so they can breed while afloat.”

“Oh,” the putative President shot back with as much sweetness she could muster. “I only need one each of my Cabinet, one each of my congressmen, one each of my presidential staff, and one each of the church men on my side to breed.”

“Breed what?”


Which is what this regime will be remembered for, years after it’s gone. Soon, after it illegally booted out Joseph Estrada and ironically on a moral high horse. On a much grander scale, when it conducted fraud to vault over Fernando Poe Jr.’s electoral victory. And from there to unparalleled heights of shamelessness, from the killing and disappearance of activists like Jonas Burgos, Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan to the NBN-ZTE deal and the near-kidnap of whistle-blower Rodolfo Lozada Jr., the pay-off to governors and mayors at Malacañang as exposed by Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio, the insistence of the House of Representatives to pass the Cha-cha — you name the crime against the people, and this government has done it.

The culminating sin of Mrs. Arroyo’s rule is the all-out effort to ram Charter change down the throats of the people, at the expense of far worthier bills. The Senate, no less than, favored Arroyo adviser and Bicol Gov. Joey Salceda tells us, had passed the Disaster Risk Reduction Bill, to among other things provide Pagasa with Doppler radars to forecast short-run rainfall content of typhoons, to replace obsolete Pagasa manual rain gauges.

Kung hindi inuna ang Cha-cha, kung ang DRRB muna ang ipinasa ng House, disin sana’y nakuhang sukatin ng Doppler radars kung gaano karaming ulan ang babagsak mula sa “Ondoy” at “Pepeng” at nagawang paraanan ang pagpapalikas sa mga naninirahan sa binahang lugar.

Then again, baka hindi rin naman.

It was a problem to order those who had nothing in life except that roof over their heads to move. They could not be assured their little houses would be safely waiting for them when the waters came down, they (correctly) projected the looters would beat them to the little they had. And indeed, there was looting. Massive looting, bahay, kotse, pati mga namatay sa pagkalunod, ninakawan ng mga alahas, damit, sapatos. Paanong hindi huhusay ang mga galamay sa pandarambong kung may sinusundang Ulong Pugita?

It was a bigger problem to order the move of those who were at the supposedly more stable areas of Provident Village and Cinco Hermanos in Marikina and the cushier villages in Pasig, Antipolo and Cainta. Hindi singko ang kostas ng mga bahay do’n, you pay that much for your house, how on earth would you believe the waters would claim what you had paid millions for?

You raise this point and you discover another “truth.” That contrary to what Marikina City leaders MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando and wife and current Mayor Marides say, all is not well in their fiefdom. The flooding there was caused by the construction of residential housing clusters along the Marikina River, not to mention the Fernando family-owned Marikina Riverbanks Mall built right on the, well, river bank.

A tale from the reign of Empress Catherine II of Russia had her minister Gregory Potyomkin erecting false front settlements on the main road to impress her. Potemkin Villages were what they were called, so is Marikina City, where all improvements appear to have been merely cosmetic. Bayani Fernando has got a lot of explaining to do, his earlier pronouncements of willingness to accept the blame came too early, mga hanggang alak-alakan pa lang ang tubig no’n. I wonder what he says now.

While I’m at it, I might as well ask the perceived dinner sponsors of Mr. and Mrs. Mike Arroyo at Le Cirque in Manhattan — $20,000 for Rep. Martin Romualdez—and Bobby Vans’ Steakhouse in Washington DC — $15,000 for Rep. Danilo Suarez: Have you donated to the victims of “Ondoy” and “Pepeng?” How much?

Shame on you, if you haven’t given. Bigger shame on you, if you gave lesser than the dinner tabs you picked up for your principals, dahil wow, ang bilis n’yong inako iyon to absolve the Arroyos from accusations of using public funds to eat out. Especially you, Congressman Suarez, how so quickly your hand shot up in the air to scream “Me! Me! I paid for the Bobby Vans’ meal in cash, I declared to the US Customs I brought more than $10,000 when I deplaned, I was the woman the Washington Post tagged as having paid the restaurant with paper bills out of my bag!”

And the greatest shame, on the Mother of Shamelessness. She steals big, she steals small, she steals hope, she steals dignity. Not once, but twice, and many times over.

At Camp Aguinaldo during “Ondoy” Mrs. Arroyo announced that Malacañang was going to be an evacuation center. She went home, saw a line of refugees, got “visibly irked” according to all of Manila’s media, asked one of her chu-chus to clarify she meant her exalted residence was going to be merely a “repacking center” for relief goods. She is hit by international flak, she goes to the Tatalon Estate in Quezon City to personally lure the squatters there to go with her, puts them in the “Ceremonial Hall, where the Chief Executive traditionally hosts international diplomats and dignitaries,” and have them in their sandos and dasters photographed under sparkling chandeliers. Na iyon naman pala, hindi nagtagal matapos ang Kodak-an, pinaalis uli ang mga bisita niyang squatters.

Baguio is wrecked by landslides as is nearby Benguet. Again there’s need to evacuate the homeless. Gloria goes to the Executive Mansion, has natives bused in and given relief goods, impressing upon all that they’d stay there until the worse was over. She leaves. Soon as she’s gone, the natives are bused out again.

And what’s this? Two of those given relief packets, including clothes in their brief, stay in Malacañang discovered that which they got were tattered, yes, tattered, as in gutay-gutay? Damit na hindi na maisuot, basahan? Time was when the Palace oversaw the substitution of votes, “’yung dagdag, ‘yung dagdag.” Now they’re stealing the donated good clothes and substituting it with rags to give away? Aba, kung mamimigay rin lang sila ng trapo, sa Congress na sila kumuha, and start with Romualdez and Suarez, hindi ba naman?

Hay, naku, Gloria Arroyo. Like mother, like children.

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