COMMENT: Glorific Exultations. By Patricio P. Diaz

From the Martial Law Philippines First Lady Imelda R. Marcos derived Imeldific, meaning "extravagant and excessive"; also, "penchant for grandeur – the true, the beautiful, the good". She exalts, "Everything that I do has to be beautiful, good and true."

From President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can derive Glorific, meaning indulging in self-glorification, self-importance, self-delusion and the like.

Losing Victor

President Arroyo and Malacañang exult over the recent 9-6 decision of the Supreme Court upholding Secretary Romulo Neri's invocation of executive privilege in refusing to answer questions asked by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee concerning his conversation with the President on the ZTE-NBN scandal. They consider that a telling legal victory.

What is there to be happy about an empty victory? They won the vote but deepened the crisis of truth – like winning a battle but losing the war. The majority and minority arguments clearly showed the sacrifice of reason to political loyalty to the President – eight of the majority votes being from Arroyo appointees, with three appointed straight from the Cabinet.

At the core of the Neri vs. the Senate case is the truth about the ZTE-NBN scandal that has stoked anew the political crisis. Finding the truth can be a big step in the resolution of the crisis. But in invoking executive privilege, Neri – certainly pressured by Malacañang – is hiding the truth to save President Arroyo and her administration from embarrassment and public outrage.

Malacañang has persistently denied government's wrongdoing; President Arroyo has repeatedly certified that the ZTE-NBN deal was above board. The only way to prove these claims is to let the whole truth out – to let Neri and others on-the-know tell all. Hiding behind the 9-6 Supreme Court decision strengthens public perception of guilt and deepens cynicism.

This is not the first time that President Arroyo has passed up the opportunity – that is, by baring the truth demanded of her — to resolve the political crisis that has been hounding her since her election in 2004. Instead of cooperating, Malacañang muddled the "Hello! Garci" tape investigations by both Houses of Congress in 2005; President Arroyo used the
resources of the presidency and her political majority in the House to scuttle impeachment in 2006 and 2007.

Just like in the 9-6 Supreme Court vote in favour of Neri, President Arroyo and Malacañang gloated over their political victories in the House. But in both the Neri and the House victories, the exultations were empty – Glorific exultation. And, worse! The crisis and public cynicism deepened.

Contradictions

President Arroyo and Malacañang have been indulging in contradictions – exulting in plus points and positives while completely ignoring the minus points and negatives. There is a big difference in state of the nation as seen by Arroyo and by foreign eyes like funding institutions, agencies of the United Nations and countries extending economic assistance.

In 2007, the Philippines achieved a 7.3 percent Gross Domestic Product, surpassed only by China (11.1) and Vietnam (8.5) in East Asia. That is a big plus point. With this, President Arroyo tells all of RP's booming economy and its being well within its 20-year target to become a First World economy. She received kudos from Asian Development Bank, World Bank and European Union.

But ADB, WB and EU pricked the balloon as soon as they had inflated it. They pointed to the minus points – the very wide disparity in the distribution of economic gains and the growing incidence of poverty according RP's own official statistics. While laudable, the 7.3 GDP should be taken with cautious realism. That must be the message of ADB, WB and EU.

And, more to the point: How could a booming economy be reconciled with the soaring prices of rice and the feared impending rice crisis? How could a booming economy be reconciled with the aids from donor country's and dependence on Official Development Assistance (ODA)?

Self-delusion

Glorific exultation on booming economy is self-delusion – seeing more than what is real for self-aggrandizement. With the help of patronizing media, President Arroyo has regaled the country with her delusions of greatness.

In her first State of the Nation Address, she revealed her dream to build the Philippines into a strong republic upon the stones that her father, President Diosdado P. Macapagal, had laid down. And since that moment through two or three years the Philippines was the "Strong Republic.” For some unknown reasons, she must have awakened. The reference has stopped.

In her 2007 State of the Nation Address, she revealed  another dream – to make the Philippines a First World economy in 20 years. With the 7.3 percent GDP in 2007, she exults in the dream. By 2027, should the Philippines fail to become a First World economy, she will blame the Presidents after her while basking in her Glorific exultation.

She has dreamt of another legacy – to be the President to defeat the Moro rebellion, Communist insurgency, and Abu Sayyaf terrorism. The hope to sign a peace agreement with the Moros before 2010 hangs precariously; deadlines after deadlines have passed, yet the military forces have not subdued the defiant insurgents and terrorists.

Even if she fails to realize this legacy and others she wants to be remembered for, "Glorific" will stick with the years long after she has stepped down. ("Comment" is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz' column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Mr. Diaz is the recipient of a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Titus Brandsma for his "commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate." You may e-mail your comments to [email protected]).

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