Arroyo’s moral recovery a ‘copycat’
Lira D. Fernandez, Joel Guinto
MANILA, Philippines — Pangasinan Rep. Jose De Venecia scoffed at President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s call for “moral renewal” in government, calling it a “copycat” of a council for moral revolution he launched a year ago.
But Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita insisted there is “no question” Arroyo is the best person to lead a moral renewal in the country.
“There is no question whatsoever that President Arroyo has the highest moral standard to have a call, to make a call on moral recovery because she will [not] be where she is… if she does not have that qualification,” Ermita said.
Arroyo issued over the weekend Administrative Order 255, directing all government agencies to implement a moral renewal program.
Her critics immediately mocked the order, noting the many corruption scandals that have hounded her administration, the latest of which is the alleged rigging of bids for World Bank-funded infrastructure projects, in which First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo has been implicated.
A once staunch Arroyo ally, De Venecia said it was he who had invited her to take the lead in reforming her administration, but that she ignored it.
“I gave her 100 days, I suggested to her that she should take the lead and then she did not take action after 100 days so I proceeded to move on, [and] now [she bares] her moral renewal, which is a copycat or rather a slight revision of my call for moral revolution,” he told reporters in an interview Wednesday.
Had Arroyo heeded his call, the former Speaker said, “then she could still exit with a blaze of historic glory.”
De Venecia had a falling out with Arroyo early last year when he refused to rein in his son, Jose III, from testifying before the Senate inquiry on the alleged bribery and overpricing that accompanied the national broadband network deal with China’s ZTE Corp.
The younger De Venecia linked the First Gentleman to the alleged anomalies.
In February 2008, De Venecia was ousted as Speaker by the heavily pro-administration House.
In a separate interview, Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora said: “Ang problema sa moral renewal eh, syempre ang unang tatanungin, di ba dapat magsimula ‘yan sa gobyerno mismo? Sa kalagitnaan ng lahat ng eskandalo di ba ang dapat isipin nya ano’ng gagawin sa eskandalo [The problem with moral renewal of course is, the first question will be, should it not start with government itself? With all these scandals, should she not be thinking what she ought to do about these scandals]?”
“We can’t say that we are out for moral revolution when very clearly that revolution didn’t take place in her incumbency. Maybe that’s a little too late,” Zamora said.
But Ermite said that “just because there were many investigations or significant investigations conducted under her watch does not mean that the President herself has or her moral qualifications should be put under question.”
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