Palace slams Washington Times editorial, defends FG


Posted at Jul 27 2009 11:07 AM | Updated as of Jul 27 2009 07:07 PM

A spokesman of President Arroyo on Monday slammed a Washington Times editorial criticizing US President Barack Obama's decision to invite Mrs. Arroyo to the White House on July 30.

The Washington Times newspaper on Sunday warned that US President Barack Obama's decision to invite Philippine President Gloria Arroyo to the White House could be seen as a validation of the Arroyo administration.

In its July 26 editorial, the paper said 'Somebody at the National Security Council dropped the ball' for allowing Arroyo's visit to the US president.

"On Thursday, President Obama is welcoming Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the White House for his presidency's first visit by a Southeast Asian leader. The choice of Mrs. Arroyo for this honor was a mistake because Mr. Obama is being used to give political cover for the Philippine president's troubles back home," the editorial said.

It noted that several of the problems being faced by Mrs. Arroyo including sinking public approval and allegations of corruption and human rights abuses.

It also noted the administration's plans to amend the Philippine Constitution, which could allow Mrs. Arroyo to serve as prime minister if the current system of government is changed to a parliamentary system.

"This would allow her to circumvent the presidential term limit which prevents her from staying in office. This move, incidentally, is similar to the strategy strongman Ferdinand Marcos used to stay in power after declaring martial law in 1972," it said.

The paper noted the century-old relationship between Washington and Manila after the US victory in the Spanish-American war in 1898 paved the way for the Philippines to become a US colony. The Visiting Forces Agreement also allows US troops to conduct training of Philippine troops in its war against terrorists and insurgents.

"But the nation should be differentiated from its lame-duck leader. Welcoming Mrs. Arroyo to the White House only validates her troubled rule," the paper said.

In response, Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez said the editorial was written by Brett Decker, a former Washington Times editor and author of "Global Filipino: The Authorized Biography of Jose de Venecia."

"I think Brett Decker wrote that and if you want to know his background, he was the one who wrote the book about former speaker Jose de Venecia Jr," Golez told radio dzMM.

"He is not even considered a reporter anymore. He is a tool of the opposition," he added.

'FG Arroyo trip to US a personal decision'

In the same interview, Golez defended First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo's plan to accompany Mrs. Arroyo in her visit to the United States on July 30

"It's a personal decision on whoever wants to join the trip and that includes the First Gentleman. We will respect that," he said.

He added, however, that he does not know if Mr. Arroyo is included in the President's official delegation to the US.

Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo earlier said Mr. Arroyo's decision to join the President should end “evil talks” about his being under probe by US authorities allegedly for money laundering.

“I’m not going, but my father will. That will settle all these evil talks about his supposed legal troubles in the US,” the presidential son said in a text message, squelching allegations that his father had significant exposure in the bankrupt Lehman Brothers.

Mr. Arroyo’s lawyer, Ruy Rondain, and Rep. Arroyo told The Philippine Star in separate interviews that the trip would disprove rumors that the First Gentleman was banned in the US.

“Those rumors don’t really affect us because they’re not true,” the younger Arroyo said.

Rondain reiterated his challenge to critics to show proof that Mr. Arroyo would be arrested in the US and he would treat them to an all-expense paid trip to the US. With a report from The Philippine Star