The virus of lies

Nestor MataNestor Mata
MANILA -With Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the illegal resident of Malacañang, we’re better off assuming that everything that comes out of her mouth is separated by nothing but her own words. And this is just as true about her political cohorts, minions, devotees, and Palace mouthpieces that all appear to have been infected by the virus of lies, falsehoods, half-truths and blatant misinformation.

Let’s start with the latest revelation of her profligate spending, including GMA’s frequent foreign junkets, the eating and dining in Washington, D.C. and New York, where the dinner tabs amounted to thousands of American dollars or millions in Philippine pesos.

When news reports from the United States were published in Manila’s print and broadcast media about her profligacy, Arroyo’s frenetic barkers rushed to her defense.

Led by her principal mouthpiece, they all chorused, “No, no, no, the Le Cirque dinner was simple, not lavish.” And, sensing that nobody believed it, because they dined and wined in Manhattan’s most ritzy restaurant, they pointed to a wealthy congressman as the one who hosted and paid for the dinner bill that amounted to $20,000. And yet they failed to produce proof of their claim and their host even tried to elude inquisitive journalists.

Let’s recall the report of the New York Post writer about that dinner: “The economic downturn hasn’t persuaded everyone to pinch pennies. Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was at the Le Cirque with a large entourage enjoying the good life.” The President, he noted, “ordered several bottles of very expensive wine, pushing the tab up to $20,000.” Need we say more?

As if such profligacy in the midst of the ongoing economic downturn, not to mention that back home the nation was mourning the death of Cory Aquino, and millions of poor people were hungry and starving, were not enough, it was reported by The Washington Post that three days before the Le Cirque dinner, GMA and entourage of about 65 people (including security and food tasters) had dinner at Bobby Van’s Steak House on 15th Street NW, hours after she met POTUS Barack Obama.

There, a Washington Post report said, the group took over one of the Restaurant’s private rooms and dined on lobster, steak and fine wines.

And it added that at the end of the dinner an unidentified woman pulled out a wad of dollar notes and, under the table, counted $15,000 and paid the tab, including a “generous tip.”

When this was picked up by the Manila media, the Palace mouthpieces once more instantly denied that the dinner was paid out of Filipino taxpayers money and that still another rich congressman hosted and paid for the extravagant feast.

If those mealy-mouth Palace barkers and the two loyalist solons thought for a moment that they would exculpate their “Boss Lady” from charges of profligacy, they were wrong. Nobody, but nobody believed them! There seems to be no end to Gloria Arroyo’s travails.

So soon after returning from her traipsing abroad, Manila’s media went to town in the press and on television and radio with one expose after another expose.

The first one raked up official reports about how much she has spent in her foreign trips since 2003. She reportedly more than doubled the $1.1-billion limit set by Congress from 2003 to 2008.
What’s ironic about this is that the data came from the Commission on Audit (COA)!

Predictably, GMA’s now frenzied Palace mouthpieces said she didn’t “overshoot” the travel budget allocated to the Office of the President. And to deflect the damaging data of the COA, her economic adviser noted that even if she overspent, the benefits derived from the foreign and local trips far outweighed their costs in terms of investments.

Then Manila’s newspapers carried blaring headlines that, according to an investigative report, GMA has gotten richer than any of her predecessors ever since she got into Malacañang in 2001 up to 2008.
The same report disclosed that this was not reflected at all in her annual Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN) which were remarkably full of gaps in data.

And once more the mealy-mouthed Palace barkers and stammering legal eagles went to work to disclaim what they called the “allegations” about her amazingly increasing wealth.

Just like all other attempts to “cover up” for GMA’s profligacy, nobody believed them at all!
And just the other day, mindless of all these exposes, the Palace came out with an announcement that the Office of the President wants a new executive jet plane for GMA that would cost a whopping P1.2 billion!
Later, the order was rescinded.

Is it any wonder then that GMA has been perceived as the “most distrusted and unpopular” president the country ever had since the restoration of democracy in 1986?

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