Friday, January 23, 2009

Too much, too early

Just after the oath-taking of new US President Barack Obama, Mr. Eduardo Ermita, the Executive Secretary of my own President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, remarked in a press conference in Manila that the former can learn from latter since she's been in office longer than him. And also that, he mentioned that because of Arroyo's presidency, the Philippines "continues to be an 'island of calm" despite the current global economic crisis.

Well, I found Ermita's statement superfluous considering the lowest ever satisfaction ratings for a president that Arroyo has been getting from the public. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, interestingly an ally of Arroyo, also termed a "hyperbole" Ermita's statement. She said it doesn't really matter if who has served for how long, if lessons are to be imparted about leadership, something along that line.

Indeed, Ermita spoke too much and too early. Especially since the economic calm that he was bragging about was shaken by the news that came just hours after his Obama-Arroyo remarks, that long-term Philippine investor Intel was closing its factory in the Philippines, giving a job loss to 1,800 Filipinos, mostly women. Also in the TV news along that time was the confirmation of what many feared and found hard to confirm because of the earlier repeated denial by the concerned companies. Philippine pre-need companies (e.g., for educational plans) were losing money and could be unable to pay or pay quickly their beneficiaries' claims. Of course, before this, there was the news last year that one of the biggest, if not the biggest, insurance companies in the Philippines is up for sale because of the losses of its parent company in the USA. And early this year, a number of rural banks have suddenly closed, leaving the fate of the depositors' money in limbo.

So, this is what Obama must learn from Arroyo?

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