Saturday, August 15, 2009

Filipino Youth Group Calls for an End to Arroyo’s “Glo-ttony”, Dares Arroyo to Surrender Wealth

Filipino Youth Group Calls for an End to Arroyo’s “Glo-ttony”, Dares Arroyo to Surrender Wealth

New Jersey-Filipino youth of Anakbayan New York/ New Jersey call for an end to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s gluttony and greed after a recent controversial $20,000 dinner at Manhattan’s Le Cirque and a previous one at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse in Washington, D.C. for $15,000. This overindulgence earned criticisms from the opposition, as it was held amidst an appalling poverty and economic situation in the Philippines.

Guilty of “Glo-ttony”

Mrs. Arroyo and her entourage began their alleged spending extravaganza before meeting Pres. Obama in Washington, D.C. on July 30. According to two separate articles from the online edition of the New York Post, Arroyo and company came to spend $15,000 in D.C. and an alleged $20,000 at Le Cirque, hours before heading back to the Philippines.

The article, titled “Eat and Drink” described the feast as “enjoying the good life”, adding that, “Macapagal-Arroyo ordered several bottles of very expensive wine, pushing the dinner tab up to $20,000”. Another report came out on Aug.12 claiming that Arroyo and her cohorts had a prior “feast frenzy” in D.C. before meeting president Obama last July 30th. The commentary stated “The party spared no expense, and had lobster, steak and expensive wines”.

“One of the deadly sins is gluttony, which means excessive eating and consumption. We declare this regime guilty of this deadly sin. This latest debacle is a testament to Arroyo’s unquestionable corruption and insensitivity to the poverty of our countrymen back home. The sum of both lavish dinners, around $35,000, could have been spent on vital social services and poverty eradication measures that 2 out of 5 “food hungry” Filipinos should have benefitted from.” Said Jules Danzey of Anakbayan NY/NJ

Not a Simple Dinner

In an effort to justify the allegations, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde immediately responded to critics, dismissing the incident as a “simple dinner”. In another effort to respond to criticisms, Remonde added that the president cannot be expected to eat in a hotdog stand.

“The Administration’s statements reflect the kind of government we have under Arroyo’s rule - an arrogant government of the few who bask in luxury. This government has repeatedly misused the hard-earned tax money of the Filipino people,” said Anakbayan member, Kathleen Dy.

This, according to the young activist, shows the Administration’s elitism and ignorance of the people’s real conditions.

“Arroyo, Mr. Remonde and the rest of the administration’s lap dogs should go to the countryside, factories, urban-poor communities and to the cramped apartments of Overseas Filipino Workers in order for them to see what a simple dinner is. Consuming fine wine and caviar at the expense of millions of starving Filipinos is not and will never be just a simple dinner,” Ms. Dy added.

The Youth Challenge

On Aug.10, a report from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) on the exponential growth of Arroyo’s wealth came out. According to the report, Arroyo acquired more wealth than the wealth of Cory, Erap and Ramos’ combined since she came to power.

According to PCIJ’s statement, “Arroyo’s declared net worth more than doubled (pegged only on the book or acquisition value of her assets), from P66.8 million in 2001 to P143.54 million in 2008. The increase of P76.74 million represents a growth rate of 114 percent.” In comparison to the country’s past three presidents, Arroyo’s rapid wealth increase dwarfs Corazon Aquino’s 4.8 percent from 1989 to 1992, Fidel Ramos’s 34.2 percent from 1992 to 1998, and Joseph Estrada’s 7.2 percent from 1998 to1999.

“No amount of finger-pointing and issue-dodging can distort the issue in the eyes of the vigilant masses. Whether the dinner was paid by congressman Romualdez, his relative or the first couple, it is clear that Arroyo’s lavish spending and amassing of wealth embody government corruption. This is how the elite uses our government as a milking cow to accumulate more wealth from the toiling Filipino people and perpetuate themselves in power,” stated Yves Nibungco, Deputy Sec. Gen. of Anakbayan New York/ New Jersey.

Mr. Nibungco concluded with a challenge, “We dare Arroyo and the rest of the her clique, particularly Cerge Remonde, to surrender all their amassed wealth to the Filipino people and find out what a real simple dinner actually looks like. Either they start telling the truth or run the risk of another people’s revolt.”

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