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Expressions Of Condolence In A Time Of National Grief

August 2, 2009


It’s the morning after the passing of former president Cory Aquino with Filipinos largely observing a political ceasefire of sorts, giving way to the profound grief over the country having lost “a national treasure,” the accolade paid no less by President GloriaMacapagal Arroyo in the video-taped message Malacanang released to the networks.

The message showed Mrs. Arroyo making the statement directly to the TV camera apparently aided by an electronic teleprompter.

Such a device works with the pre-written script projected through the camera lens itself, exactly the same way TV news anchors do their newscasts.

Pres. Arroyo’s message went this way:

Today, the Philippines lost a national treasure. Cory Aquino helped lead the revolution that restored democracy and rule of law to our nation at a time of great peril.

Our nation will mourn her passing. History was thrust upon her when her noble husband was cut down in the prime of his life as he fought for democracy and rule of law. She picked up the standard from the fallen warrior Ninoy and helped lead our nation to a brighter day.

I am announcing today that we will officially observe a 10-day period of national mourning. Our hearts go out to the family in this hour of grief and sorrow. The nation prays for Cory and her family.

As formatting for presidential messages go the text is precise and formal in its tone.
Hours before taping that message, apparently over at Washing DC’s Willard Hotel, Mrs. Arroyo had just met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was then interviewed by ABS-CBN’s Ging Reyes who sought her reaction to the death of President Aquino.
Mrs. Clinton was visibly surprised at hearing about the sad event for the very first time.
But now there is a report in today’s issue of the Manila Bulletin indicating Pres. Arroyo had received word of President Aquino’s death AHEAD of her meeting with Mrs.Clintin:
“Shocked, Clinton eulogized Aquino as a brave patriot in helping bring back democracy in the Philippines after years of authoritarian rule.
It was unclear why President Arroyo did not inform Clinton about Mrs. Aquino’s death during their meeting.
Presidential adviser on climate change Heherson Alvarez told reporters that the President learned about the death of the former leader prior to the meeting with Clinton.”
This revelation flies in the face of the report that President Arroyo is may cut her U.S. trip short for the funeral of President Cory on August 5 (which Malacanang says will be a non-working holiday).

wouldn’t want to read too much into this bit of news but a find it equally perplexing to now read the deputy presidential spokesperson Anthony Golez (who is reportedly planning to see the mayorship of Bacolo City) as saying that not President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s job to prepare for a smooth transfer of power to her successor.

This is exactly opposite to what President Cory did when she handed over the Presidency to her successor, Fidel V. Ramos in 1991.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports:

The transition there would be the end of the term. When the term is going to end, I think that is going to be the smooth transition that we’re all waiting for,” said Undersecretary Anthony Golez in a briefing. “I don’t know if they (successor) need little steps before they can come in. If they’re running for president, it must be that they’re fit to be the president, and they don’t need any guide or anything to lead them toward the right direction,” he said.

The Aquino family has, in the meantime, announced they intend to keep Mrs. Aquino’s funeral a non-State Affair.

Pres. Cory is, by law entitled to be accorded full state honors as former president, and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces.

Yesterday all military units, following protocol, fired cannon salutes honouring her memory and military honor guards bore her coffin to the La Salle Greenhills domed multi-purpose gymnasium and are on guard duty at her wake.

Minus these meaningful trappings, I am asking myself how genuinely sincere the current head of state is in her expressions of commiseration with the bereaved family, and the national body politic.

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