Mrs. Arroyo was not in the country when Gates, a close adviser of US president Barack Obama, visited the country. Was it a deliberate snub by Malacanang?
Then came a series of disturbing reports about the state of Philippine affairs, the latest this Trafficking of Persons Report 2009 by the US State Department. The US placed the Philippines in its watchlist. The report describes the Philippines as:
After this, another pronouncement, this time from US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney. Kenney echoed what Gates told Teodoro---Washington's desire to see a peaceful transition of power in 2010. However, if you look very closely, you'll find that there is a distinct difference between Gates' pronouncement and Kenney's statement.
"...a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children
trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. " US State
Department, Trafficking in Persons Report 2009."
Gates appeal was directed to Malacanang. Kenney's on the other hand, puts the onus of responsibility in ensuring a peaceful transition of power, in the hands of the "Filipino People".
Washington just said that if they cannot rely on Mrs. Arroyo's word to put the democratic process of succession in motion come 2010, maybe the Filipino People would.
Is this Washington's way of telling the Philippine counter-elite to put the People Power process in motion?
As if there's a prepared script, former president Fidel V. Ramos issued a scathing remark against the Arroyo administration, urging the palace to "refrain" from "titillating" the public with "cha-cha" and "running for Congress" and instead, announce its true political agenda come 2010.
And as if on cue, Executive secretary Eduardo Ermita responded with a warning---toe the line or else, Mrs. Arroyo will declare martial rule. Ermita just wittingly or unwittingly revealed the true plan of the palace---a term extension via the martial law route.
Ermita's statement just answered the pleas and appeal of US Defense secretary Robert Gates and Ambassador Kenney's with an emphatic shrug---we're not interested in a democratic transition because we want to extend ourselves in power.
Is Mrs. Arroyo getting back at President Barack Obama for all those snubs and shrugs? Remember that Mrs. Arroyo was like a scorned kid (a scorned devil enfant?) a few months back. Is Mrs. Arroyo just positioning herself as a possible dictator to get Washington's attention?
Yet, the most important question is---is Washington listening and is Barack Obama interested on what Mrs. Arroyo says?
We'll know in a few weeks.