Today’s Manila Bulletin (print edition) has not one but two photographs of our lovely president, Gloria Arroyo, on the front page.

The Philippine president is visiting Spain…getting jobs for Pinoys there and lots of money for investment here, including setting up a biofuel plant to process jatropha oil into diesel.
Like her former classmate, Bill Clinton, Arroyo’s motto is: It’s the economy, stupid. And right now the peso is strong, and she is busy traveling all over the world, getting investments and agreements for Filipinos to work overseas. This is good, since people who are busy working to support their families aren’t in the mood to start revolutions, which is why last week’s mutiny that called for a public uprising fizzled.
The King of Spain, who became somewhat popular last month for telling Venezuela’s bully of a dictator to “shut up”, has congratulated President Arroyo for removing the death penalty from the books, thereby stopping the execution of a Spanish Philipino for the rape and murder of two girls. Nope, wouldn’t want to kill someone for such a minor crime. Larranga had many death penalty opponents calling his case a travesty of justice…so maybe it is good that a recent agreement will allow him to serve his sentence in Spanish prisons.  So everyone is happy except the girls’ family.
The Philippine Inquirer notes cynically:

The Spanish king’s tribute to the Philippines contrasted with the Arroyo administration’s tarnished image among human rights groups at home and abroad as a result of continuing killings of political militants, which have remained largely unsolved.

But let’s not pay attention to the press: Even the usually pro Arroyo Bulletin is a bit annoyed that a lot of the press people covering last week’s mutiny were arrested…The mutiny is over, things are quiet, and impeachment is off the table, but the press is still angry.
So it is only a coincidence that 30 congressmen went with GMA to visit Spain. No, it has nothing to do with the dropping of the latest impeachment probe

The President’s spokesman points out that the Congressmen picked up their own expenses, but the bulk of the trip was paid for by the host country, i.e. Spain.

The ABSCBN story reports:

Three senators, 34 congressmen, Cabinet members and 50 businessmen are billeted in Melia Castilla, a five-star hotel in Madrid. The report said the standard room rate in the hotel is 120 euros or almost P12,000 a day. Mrs. Arroyo and her family, including her four grandchildren, are staying at Palacio Real de El Pardo.

For the administration congressmen and Cabinet members, shelling out a large amount of money for the trip was worth it since the trip is expected to yield more investments. The congressmen also said that the trip is an official business.

The congressmen, (are) mostly members of Mrs. Arroyo’s Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino…

Our congressman however stayed home, so maybe there is hope.

In the meanwhile, Congressional business is at a standstill… without enough Congressmen, hearings on various ethical lapses in the elections commission, investigation of cash gifts given to politicians visiting the Presidential Palace…and a complaint about one politician’s son being involved in the recent broadband scandal was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Yup. Business as usual.

As for us, the harvest is over, and we are busy preparing our irrigated fields for the winter planting of rice.

Politics here makes the headlines, but most of us work for a living.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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