Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A dangerous president

I'm currently doing a monitor on how the media covered the recent media blitz-cum-image makeover of President Gloria Arroyo for the next issue of the PJR Reports (formerly known as the Philippine Journalism Review). Vergel O. Santos, our consulting editor and chair of board of advisers of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, reacted on Arroyo's July 27 press conference in the August issue of the PJR Reports. In his well-written article, the veteran journalistm, who is presently writing a column for the Businessworld, said:

"Televised nationwide, the press conference was over in about 30 minutes, but it has left enough stink to last perhaps an entire presidential term. Yet, the more worrisome aspects lie beyond the stink. They suggest a dangerously insecure and self-righteous president—one who would control her environment and one who would readily appropriate God for her cause. The first tendency showed in the scripted proceedings and captive audiences in Congress during her State of the Nation Address and at her press conference; the second was betrayed by her own chilling words.

During her press conference alone, she must have mentioned God being good to her at least three times. Before that, she had been content with having His earthly representative, the pope, for her patron—John Paul II, specifically, who, according to her, had himself told her she was his choice as Philippine president. But of course, when she made the claim, John Paul had become too dead to confirm or deny it. God, on the other hand, is too mysterious in His ways to be helpful Himself.

Obviously, in any case, President Arroyo’s controlled environment would have no place for an independent press. After all, an independent press regards skepticism as a virtue and government as an adversary; it also does not stop asking questions until it is told the truth; and it leaves God well enough alone."

Very well said.

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