Rice Not Lies! HK OFWs say GMA Answers Hunger with Squander

Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 8, March 30 – April 5, 2008

Filipinos get hungry as the price of our staple food shoots up while Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo squanders about PhP2 million to spew out lies and project false support of overseas Filipinos to her crumbling administration. Isn’t this shameless and callous?

This was the statement of Eman Villanueva, spokesperson of the Gloria Step down Movement – Hong Kong (GSM-HK) in a picket rally at the Philippine Consulate General today to denounce the squander of people’s money for the upcoming HK visit of GMA in the face of the rice shortage in the country.

We are made destitute by this government with its rampant corruption of public resources. Distressed overseas Filipinos are left to fend for themselves. Now we will starve to death while GMA comes here wasting about half a million HK dollars to try to fool OFWs and entice us to bleed more money for her self-serving purpose, he added.

GSM-HK estimated that the cost of GMA’s appearance before OFWs at the plush Grand Hyatt Hotel on Sunday, March 30 will reach about PhP1 million while another million will be spent for the three-day expenses of GMA and her entourage. Villanueva said that the government even sent personnel from the Office of External Affairs that is under the Office of the President just to check the preparations for the Sunday event.

Based on their inquiry at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, the cost of the hotel’s facilities are the following: Tiffin Lounge where GMA will meet OFWs – HK$450 (PhP2,550) per head or HK$90,000 (PhP450,000) for a maximum of 200 people; reservation for Function Room for 160 people – HK$140,000 (PhP700,000) while dining is at HK$1,100 (PhP5,500) per head.

Meanwhile, the group estimated GMA’s stay in HK, based on going rate for posh hotels, at HK$15,000 (PhP75,000). Her entourage estimated at a low of 30 personnel will require about HK$180,000 (PhP900,000) at a rate of HK$2,000 per person each day. Villanueva remarked that this may even be a conservative estimate considering GMA’s penchant for lavish traveling.

With the rice shortage, recent oil price hike, and the general economic crisis, only a president that has complete disregard of the people’s plight can spend PhP2 million with wanton abandon, Villanueva added.

Villanueva reported that the news of serious rice shortage in the country and the increase in prices of rice is a grave concern for overseas Filipinos who are the main breadwinners of their families.

”We are already contending with low wages and the continuing slide of the dollar. The rice shortage will further impinge on our already tight budget. When will the GMA government stop heaving one calamity after another to us?” he remarked.

GSM-HK said that they will not duped into accepting the offer of the government to buy stocks or invest in order to cope with the current economic crisis.

Our remittance and the payments we give to government fees are already being plundered or are used to replace money stolen from other public sources. We will not let GMA touch our hard-earned money that is barely enough to sustain the basic needs of our families, he stated.

Meanwhile, Villanueva also lambasted the PCG-HK for its preparation frenzy to make GMA happy.

”It is condemnable for the PCG-HK to pool resources and manpower for the useless meeting with GMA while they cannot even find time and effort to answer the repeated requests of OFW groups here for a Leader’s Forum to discuss pressing concerns. Like GMA, government officials here have revealed their true priorities and these are definitely not our rights and wellbeing, he said

In conclusion, Villanueva said that the rice crisis will surely fire up the outrage of overseas Filipinos reeling from economic hardships and the neglect and irresponsibility of the government. He said that they will intensify their campaign to urge OFWs to join the March 30 rally.

Now it is even clearer that GMA’s continued rule and corruption shall spell death for us. This time, by hunger, he said. (Bulatlat.com)

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