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That Elusive GMA-Obama Photo Opportunity

February 9, 2009

Malacanang says the possibility of Pres. Arroyo meeting with Pres. Obama “was not on the agenda” when Mrs. Arroyo diverted her chartered Philippine Airlines Bahrain-to-Manila to catch the 44th U.S. President first National Prayer Breakfast.

Asserting that story to be true, defenders of the Arroyo regime are slamming those who read the Arroyo-Obama non-meeting as yet another snub with the dignity of the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines taking a hit.

In knee-jerk fashion the political opposition is criticizing Mrs. Arroyo for wasting public money just to chase a photo session.


Surely the elusive photo opportunity will not define Philippine-American relations.

But it cannot but be taken in the same context, albeit tangentially, with the raging tiff between Manila and the World Bank and the ‘terms of engagement’ Mr. Obama has set for leaders who are looking to foster good links with America’s first Afro-American president.

“Unclench your fist.” Obama said during his inaugural address, referring to foreign leaders “who cling to power through corruption, deceit, and the stifling of dissent.”

Malacanang, when its reaction was solicited, said it did not feel Mrs. Arroyo was being alluded to. For good measure, the Executive Secretary, Eduardo Ermita, even said Pres. Obama “could learn lessons in effective economic policy and governance” from Mrs. Arroyo.

Then this World Bank findings on the collusion of Filipino contractors broke out.

The Arroyo regime has 15 months left in its term.

It bear close, very close watching if Mrs. Arroyo will “unclench her fist” and thus bag that elusive photo-opp.

The only possible  occasions would be if The Philippines, by some still unseen reasion, becomes a stop in Obama first swing to this part of the economic crises-saddle world. or if Mrs. Arroyo herself gets invited to the White House.

Till either opportunity comes, those in the Palace by the Pasig may have to content themselves with the magic of Photo-shopped images.


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