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The Arroyo-Obama Non-Meeting

February 6, 2009


The president of the only Catholic nation in Asia diverted her chartered plane to Washington D.C. just to be able to attend the annual US National Prayer Breakfast.

Malacanang says she was invited by the organizers and was, according to reports, one of only six foreign leaders at the event attended by about 3,500 other guests.

So a normal expectation was that given her stature, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo would have even a brief face to face with the 44th US president, the first of Afro-American lineage.

When Mr. Obama was still just the Democratic Party standard bearer, Mrs. Arroyo’s handlers tried repeatedly to book a meeting with him.

That never happened.

A consolation was when Mrs. Arroyo visited New York in October for the opening on the yearly UN General Assembly session Mr. OIbama placed a phone call to her.

Then after he emerged winner in the November US polls, the new US president-in-waiting returned an earlier congratulatory call from the Filipino lady president who had to be roused from bed to take OIbama’s call.

Fast forward to the day before yesterday.

Mrs. Arroyo arrived at Washington’s Dulles Airport at 2 a.m. just to catch the National Prayer Breakfast.

Still no face to face with Obama and not even a specific mention, except when the American leader “expressed thanks to the foreign diginitaries at the breakfast.”

fajardo-on-gma-at-breakfastThe only point this writer can find tangentially interesting is that Pres. OIbama announced he was creating an office to look after issues related to the various religious denomi8nations that make up American society.

Obama’s recognition of the need for religious marmony in the US is mirrored  in the remarks he delivered.

At least in this respect you can say Mrs. Arroyo is a big step ahead.

Very early in her own presidency she had designated a Presidential Assistant for Ecclesiastical Affairs in the person of seasoned communications expert and political strategist Conrado Limcaoco Jr.

If there is one information that may be of interest to Malacanang, there’s word that apart from Barack Hussein Obama making his first state visit to Canada, the first Asian country he will likely visit is Indonesia where he lived and studied for several years as young boy.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in this part of the world and is known to have underground cells of Al Qaeda.

Thus  it logically will be a focal point in Mr. Obama foreign policy in the Asia Pacific region.

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