Judging from what we've seen and heard from initial TV reports (I watched the Balitanghali report about half an hour ago) and the video clips at GMANews.tv, the meeting between US President Barack Obama and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, it went smoothly and was warm and cordial.
Joining the President in the Oval Office meeting with President Obama are Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Foreign Affairs Secretary Bert Romulo, Philippine Ambassador to the US, Willy Gaa, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and former Senator Heherson "Sonny" Alvarez, presidential adviser on climate change.
In terms of realpolitik, the two leaders between them mentioned security, counter-terrorism, peace in Mindanao, regional issues in Southeast Asia, climate change, Burma (Myanmar), North Korea's nuclear adventurism. These are basic stuff, nothing out of the ordinary. Mrs. Arroyo's mentioning that the Philippines stands four-square behind US leadership on these issues is child's play. Every Philippine President before her has uttered that line in much the same manner that preschool children are required to recite their ABC.
These are the available video clips as of July 31, 2006, 1:06pm, courtesy of GMANews.tv:
But we really never expected anything much from Mrs. Arroyo. Face-to-face with an American President who knows how to play hard ball as well as the nuances of beer diplomacy, Arroyo faded into irrelevance, true to the Philippines' image in the world as an American minion.
Will the next Philippine President fare any better? We shall see. After all, Obama will be around for nearly eight years. For the American President, that is more than enough time for him to brush up on the brutalities of the American "pacification" campaign that killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of Filipinos at the turn of the 20th century.
Will the next Philippine President have the guts to ask Mr. Obama to make an official apology to the Filipino nation regarding that grievous injustice? Will the next Philippine President have the guts to ask Mr. Obama for the United States to give back to the Philippines the fabled Balanginga Bells, one of the most important reminders of Filipino gallantry during our country's fight for freedom?
Will the next Philippine President dare stand with Mr. Obama as an equal and not as a minion?
Will the next Philippine President dare ask Mr. Obama to support the emergence of an industrialized Philippines instead of simply being a dumpsite of foreign goods?
Closer to home, will the next Philippine President dare stand with our powerful local tycoons as their President instead of being the meek, compromising recipient of their 2010 campaign contributions?
This is something all our presidentiables should answer because no matter how seemingly "honest" the 2010 presidential elections are, if the winner will be a kept man or kept woman of powerful, influential groups that dictate matters of policy, maga-Garci na naman tayo!
(Showing Video Clip of the Media Announcement Following the Meeting Between Presidents Obama and Arroyo)
31 July 2009 2:15pm
This Balitanghali report by Ivan Mayrina who is covering the President's visit to Washington provides a video clip of a portion of the media announcement following the Oval Office meeting:
Ivan Mayrina's report also showed some protesters chanting anti-Arroyo slogans as well as a number of her streamer-bearing supporters.