Merry Christmas, GMA
Dear Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo:
I would have wanted to greet you in Cebuano Binisaya: “Malipayong Pasko.” I know you adore speaking the adopted language of your childhood when you spent three years with your
maternal grandparents in Iligan City.
I wish to single you out this Christmas because no other Filipino at this moment in time is as blessed as you. I wish to think you now stand on consecrated ground, more than when you were the matron of Malacañang for nine years.
Tonight on Christmas Eve, you and your family are singularly gifted with a rare feat. No Filipino tonight, rich or poor, should be oblivious of your current fate.
On Dec. 5, the Supreme Court had affirmed the acquittal of your son, former party-list representative Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, in a P27.3-million tax evasion case. The Bureau of Internal Revenue had filed the complaint alleging that he had evaded tax liabilities for the taxable years 2004-2009. Recall that those years were inclusive of your term as the 14th president of the Philippines. The Court of Tax Appeals had pronounced him guilty. Now, on the basis of “procedural
defects,” Mikey can rest assured of a life free from incarceration.
The next day on Dec. 6, President Duterte appointed your daughter Evangelina Lourdes “Luli” Arroyo Bernas to the chairmanship of the National Museum of the Philippines. Unlike your two boys, Luli had never assumed a political or appointive post. Some may still recall that when you were president, Luli passed the Foreign Service Examinations. You had then intimated to the public that Luli had refused to receive government appointment while you were president. That was admirable of her.
It would seem that the good tidings extend to not just your immediate family but to the Arroyo clan. In November 2016, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency had announced that a village chief in Bacolod City and his companions were arrested in a drug buy-bust operation. Manuel Huelar Jr. and Christian Joseph Mijares were charged for drug possession and for conspiracy to commit unlawful acts related to drugs, respectively.
The PDEA had affirmed that a third companion, Joshua Arroyo, grandson of your late brother-in-law Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo, was also on their drugs watchlist. During the arrest, Arroyo yielded two sachets of shabu and drug paraphernalia. He was shot while he tried to escape. But the prosecutor recommended Arroyo’s release. In fact, the PDEA had announced that he is no longer under their custody. His two companions do not seem to be
as lucky. They do not have the winning streak of an aunt in power.
Aside from having discarded your wheelchair and neck brace for what was then diagnosed as a life-threatening disease, the bonanza has kept on flowing. Is there a hole in the sky where the halos of heaven are shining upon you?
On Dec. 11, the House of Representatives voted with an overwhelming 224 votes to affirm your pet bill that calls
for Charter change. The bill calls for a four-year term for elected representatives. Finally, as has been the dream of every congressman, the constitutional injunction against term limits will be lifted. And yes, the bane of every elected official down to the barangay level — the prohibition against political dynasties — will now be a thing of the past.
The goods just keep on coming your way. Were we surprised by the news that your second district of Pampanga had received an allocation of P2.4 billion in the 2019 General Appropriations Bill approved by the House of Representatives? The Senate’s own deliberations had observed that congressmen inserted discretionary funds even after the budget’s second reading in plenary.
You are truly on a lucky streak. Hence, I certainly do not mean to dampen the Christmas spirit in the Arroyo household by this question that may sound pharisaical to you: What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?
Please do not throw your mobile phone if this gives you a fit of your famous temper. I think many would like to know.
On Twitter: @AntonioJMontal2. E-mail: [email protected]
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