Dispatch from Crame No. 198: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on former president Arroyo’s hosting of dinner with ASEAN leaders in lieu of Vice President Leni Robredo

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More than Sassot, the other oddity during the ASEAN Summit is the curious role given by the Duterte Administration to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, from her hosting ASEAN delegates in the absence of Duterte, including Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, to speaking before the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, where she extolled the coming of the Chinese era where China purportedly will lay down its own rules as the new world leader.

It appears that in lieu of the duly-elected Vice-President Leni Robredo, who was sidelined by the Administration from the ASEAN events, the government chose in her stead former President Arroyo, for reasons only Secretary Cayetano and the protocol officers of the DFA could fathom.

Arroyo is known to be instrumental in the 2016 electoral victory of Duterte, and in exchange, the political conditions were set for the premature dismissal of her plunder indictment by her own Supreme Court appointees.

The payback does not seem to end anytime soon, as the former President with a checkered record of corruption, plunder, and — like Duterte — selling off the country to China in graft-ridden deals and lopsided joint exploration schemes in the Spratlys, continues to figure prominently in this Administration, even ushered to take the place of the Vice-President in clear violation of diplomatic protocols.

Clearly, Duterte still has use for Arroyo, and Arroyo for Duterte, beyond their common hatred for the Aquino Administration and myself, for my investigation of then Mayor Duterte and his death squad and the arrest of Arroyo after her foiled escape attempt in 2011. More than this common interest for vengeance against me, there is a deeper anchorage for this unholy alliance between Duterte and Arroyo, and it all points to China.

Already the Duterte Administration is tying up Filipinos to a future of financial indebtedness to China for infrastructure loans, while Arroyo drumbeats China’s hegemonic role not only in the Philippines, but in the whole world.

We all know what happened with Chinese infrastructure projects during Arroyo’s time. We only have to recall the NBN-ZTE scandal and the Manila-Clark railway fiasco. The unholy team-up seems bent on mortgaging the Filipino nation and its future generations to China, for a commission of course, if the past is to be any indication.

The people must guard against the resurrection of Arroyo’s dead China deals, re-packaged as Duterte’s “build-build-build” projects, if only for the record of plunder and corruption that characterized them during the Arroyo presidency. Loaning our future to China, as avidly endorsed by Duterte and Arroyo, is not the way forward. It is the path to national suicide.###

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