An organization of US-based Filipino activists has warned Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that not everyone in the Filipino-American community will welcome her visit there this week.
Arroyo will be attending the 63rd United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York starting this week. According to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Arroyo will be bringing along at least 71 lawmakers, security, and administrative officials along for the ride.
“The hotel and food expenses alone for this trip would be enough to feed several poor villages in the Philippines, a country that remains in economic shambles after the devastation of last summer’s hurricane, the food crisis, the declining Philippine peso pegged to the US dollar, and now the ongoing conflict and destabilization in Mindanao,” read a statement by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance)-USA. “Moving forward with a US trip of such extreme proportions at this time is unconscionable for any state leader, but yet again Arroyo manages to prove, as with her governance of the Philippines, that she is not guided by moral conscience, but rather greed.”
Only last June, Arroyo was in New York with over 50 other Philippine officials. The trip reportedly cost $1 million. “While (typhoon) Frank stormed through the Philippines, killing hundreds and devastating thousands, Arroyo and her entourage continued to wine and dine their way through the posh locations of Manhattan,” Bayan-USA stated.
“While the M/V Princess of the Stars sank to the bottom of the ocean, Arroyo sank to an all-time low by ignoring the emergency in her country and deciding to stay on the United States, with the objective of meeting top Washington officials to secure more foreign financing for her murderous military officials,” the group added.
Bayan-USA noted that on top of all these, the Arroyo government is intent on millions in US corporate funds with the Philippines’ eligibility status for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US government-supervised institute funding state governments under the auspices of good governance, development, and poverty aid. The group questioned the Arroyo administration’s eligibility status for the MCC compact grant, considering Arroyo’s sinking popularity in the Philippines and even among overseas-based Filipinos.
“In order to secure their claim to the MCC compact grant for development, Arroyo will travel to the United Nations to boast of fictitious achievements in alleviating poverty, human rights violations, and economic regression,” Bayan-USA stated. “But we as overseas Filipinos who sent remittances to our loved ones back home know first hand there is nothing about the Philippine economy that is improving.”
Bayan-USA also stated that the US government’s “favoritism toward the Philippines” is rooted in the “historically unequal and neo-colonial relationship” between the two countries. The group stated:
“Through Arroyo’s puppet and subservient government, the US government is able to advance it’s agenda to expand its control over the abundance of natural resources in the Philippines, starting with the deep oil and gold reserves of Mindanao, as well as fisheries, coral reefs, and the vast forestry throughout the country.The Bush partnership with the Arroyo administration is also vital in the restoration of permanent US military bases in the Philippines, securing unwanted US military stronghold over the region and protecting US corporate interests. The current US-Arroyo campaign of bloody counter-insurgency in the country is another glaring example of this.
“Now the Arroyo administration, fully intent on extending it’s power past 2010, is poising itself for more US government support from the next elected US presidency. It is becoming more and more clear with every visit to the United States that the Arroyo administration seeks sustenance from its master, just as a parasite seeks nourishment from a host, without benefiting the host, and sometimes killing it. There is absolutely no good that will come from more US financial aid promised to the Arroyo administration. All financial proceeds will surely be channeled to beefing up the operations of Philippine death squads, the pockets of Arroyo’s cronies, and securing US military presence in the country. At the same time, US taxpayers, who generate the dollars that become US aid to the Philippines, continue to be deprived of basic social services, including education, housing, and healthcare. This, in the midst of the largest US financial meltdown since the 1920s, should not be the direction our tax dollars take.”
The group demanded the withdrawal of all financial support to the Arroyo administration including a revocation of its MCC eligibility status, a review of the decisions and recommendations made to the Philippine government during the 2007 US Senate hearing on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, and Arroyo’s resignation from office. It also appealed to “pro-people forces” in the Philippine Congress to impeach her, and expressed support to calls for her ouster. (Bulatlat)