An unlooked-for gift

An unlooked-for gift

July 29, 2009

‘Thanks to Gloria, Mar no longer
needs to define himself.’

Gloria Arroyo might have unwittingly paid the highest compliment to Mar Roxas when she singled him out among her administration’s critics in her state of the nation address.

There are lingering suspicions that some opposition figures, including presidential aspirants, are prepared to strike a deal with Gloria, assuming they have not already done so, in pursuit of their personal ambition. In her spite, Gloria may just have established Roxas’ credentials as the genuine oppositionist in what is emerging to be a wide-open 2010 electoral race.

Gloria’s attack on Roxas stemmed from the latter’s allegation that she had sought to undermine the Cheaper Medicines Act by refusing to sign an executive order cutting the prices of 22 essential medicines by half. Gloria’s position was that there was no need to exercise the price ceiling option as the pharmaceutical companies themselves were agreeable to a voluntary cut, if only in terms of "suki" cards which just incidentally would carry her picture and that of her health secretary.

The flap that ensued resulted in the retreat of the big pharmaceutical companies. They agreed to cut prices on 16 drugs by half. The prices of the six or so drugs not covered by the manufacturers’ offer were cut anyway by an executive order signed by Arroyo yesterday.

The requirements of the Cheaper Medicines Act were met. So why the unseemly sight of the President using a formal state occasion like the SONA to launch a fishmonger’s scurrilous attack on a senator, however critical he may be of her?

Well, she is just human, according to Speaker Prospero Nograles. "The President is just like all of us. She also feels the pain and the frustration with the relentless effort to malign her and belittle the hard work that she had done for our nation. But there is no denying that she is a leader with a purpose and one who is prepared to defend to the hilt what is right to promote public welfare."

If that’s how Nograles prefers to frame deep political differences – a matter of personalities – we suppose that’s just fine with Roxas.

The issue in 2010 is the nine-year Arroyo administration. How do the presidential aspirants stand in relation to Gloria? Are they for or against?

Thanks to Gloria, Mar no longer needs to define himself. Gloria has done it for him.

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