Ermita cannot prescribe

Ermita cannot prescribe

The day after the inauguration of the 44th US President in Washington, D.C., we heard from Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita what comes as a bolt of lightning that could have thrown anyone from his seat as when he said – “US President Barack Obama could learn a lesson or two about governance from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.” This was in a press conference apparently called for the sole purpose of delivering what is not only an unsolicited remark but more precisely a monologue of unparalleled stupidity. It made good media copy as tri-media carried the self-satisfying event quick and wholesale. In other words, the message, in a medium known to be too powerful, was effectively sent across. Press Secretary Jesus Dureza did quite the same thing albeit a little bit more of a trial balloon calculated to gauge public response.

In the case of Ermita, he did unabashedly state his awesomely patronizing admiration of PGMA at the expense of Obama who is held in high esteem by people the world over. And this Ermita did via a medium seen and heard by a viewing universe from every nook and cranny. He said – “First of all, our President (PGMA) is ahead of Obama and probably, I would think that if there’s anything to be learned, it should be President Obama learning from President Arroyo. And wouldn’t we be proud to say that the Philippines continues to be an ‘island of calm’ because of the present crunches?” Further, he said – “… the President could even be a model or the proper conduct under pressure”.

As a consequence, PGMA became the butt of ridicule from no less than Senator Ping Lacson on account of what Ermita has bragged about PGMA, foremost of which, is the claim that PGMA has managed to insulate the Philippines from the full brunt of economic global crisis. But everyone knows that this is a claim yet to be proved if it were not a mere motherhood statement that they think every Filipino can believe.

What adds insult to injury is Ermita’s rather dishonest candour when he said he feels the Philippines is not being alluded to when Obama talked about corruption. But truth is, RP may well be what is alluded to here in the light of developments where the World Bank has to blacklist certain corporate entities involved in government projects for indications of corruption in doing business. At least Ermita came to admit of the fact that there had been at least four impeachment attempts against PGMA on top of coup plots, people power and very poor popularity rating as though in doing so, it is not at all self-deprecating one thinks our leaders must be wearing a mask.

Mainstream media has afforded Malacanang through the Executive Secretary all the leeway to consume space to play its tricks before a viewing audience Ermita might have thought to be patronizing as he is – to the level of sycophancy. No, sir. We, Filipinos are not known to be that of a braggart. Viewed differently, maybe it is us who should learn from Obama, especially so with Ermita. Perhaps, Ermita is beginning work to tame us, to domesticate us so that the next time he feeds us with yet another statement, we might even have to jump in awe and equal admiration.

Ermita failed to realize that whatever statement he makes is being read or heard across intelligences – not just in the Philippines but beyond. The American people might have been slighted or insulted when their president has been compared with PGMA. Yet what exactly are too commendable about PGMA? Ping Lacson has always been in a better position to explain in more objective details what are the possible lessons PGMA can pass on to Obama except that it may not be too reassuring for her sycophants like Ermita.

RP cannot be a model for America, not a single bit. Corollarily therefore, PGMA cannot be an exemplar for Obama, not a dent. If quite admittedly, Ermita would already be happy to strengthen ties with America to get those military equipment that the American troops no longer use, that sounds more like a pittance. That is grossly unreflecting of the man who has been in the military service for so long.

The Philippine military has always received from US by way of so-called military aid or economic package, military surplus that, as it turns out, are no longer of any use for our armed services. Are these the stuff Ermita envisions to receive from an ally? The bible for the modern political leader must have long ago abandoned this kind of alliance, if we may state here. From where I stand, I think that is entirely uncalled for that Ermita sounded off his awesome bias against Obama since we are not the kind of country that US pays any high respect to, much less to PGMA. If Obama cannot as much as find the itch to answer a phone call placed by PGMA, how can Ermita even uncease to believe that a meeting can ever take place between Obama and PGMA? Ermita, at the very least, should issue a public apology for the statement he has made in public – at least to the US Ambassador to RP. Self-regulation as espoused by Alex Magno should be the rule of thumb whenever any cabinet official opens his mouth in public.

It pays to be collectively humble – pray do.

UP Diliman, Quezon City Email: