Seems like the only people who applaud the President’s speeches are her aides and allies.
On several occasions, civil society has pointed out conflicting statements in’s speeches -- especially in those speeches regarded as policy pronouncements. For instance, some time last month, during the declaration of the La Mesa watershed as a protected area, Ms Arroyo said that the watershed is a protected area “subject to private rights.” Among those who applauded that pronouncement was former Mayor Lito Atienza, who is now the environment secretary.
Of course, environmentalists took a more critical stand. Rather than praising the President, they held a press conference expressing their resolve to continue their fight for the protection of the watershed -- the “lifeblood” of Metro Manila.
In reaction to another speech, no less than the State of the Nation Address at that, agrarian reform advocates took offense at the ambivalent stand of the government on agrarian reform. Ms Arroyo said: “DAR will be moved to…. 'Dapat maging daan sa tagumpay sa agribusiness ang reporma sa lupa' [Land reform should become a way for success in agribusiness]…. We must reform agrarian reform so it can transform beneficiaries into agribusinessmen and agribusinesswomen.”
Where else could it have been better said than in front of the landed class in Congress? A thunderous clap. Outside, the farmers booed.
In many other instances, the President has blurred the difference between public concerns and private interests. It is no wonder, then, that the rift between the rich and the poor is widening. Ms Arroyo has become the symbol of affluence and lack of sensitivity, as well as the guardian of the elite.
MARCO M. DELOS REYES, national president, National Union of Students of the(via email)