Bush visit boosts Macapagal poll bid, Palace execs claim

By Juliet Javellana and Gil Cabacungan Jr.
Inquirer News Service with INQ7.net and GMA 7

Say hair short of endorsement

A DAY after George W. Bush's eight-hour state visit, Malacaņang officials fell all over themselves to say the US president had all but endorsed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's candidacy.

One made special mention of an interview Bush gave on Oct. 14 at the White House to government TV reporter Toby Nebrida, when Bush said: "I know my friend is running again, and she's got a strong agenda to run on. (She) has been very strong and I appreciate that and I appreciate my friendship with her."

"Those lines stopped a hair short of an explicit endorsement but others in fact say that that is tantamount to an endorsement," President Macapagal-Arroyo's adviser Conrado Limcaoco said.

"We have the US president saying three things: that the Filipino people will make the right decision (in May 2004), that his friend GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) is running, and that she's got a great agenda to run on. Now if that is not support, I don't know how people will understand that," Limcaoco said.

Presidential Chief of Staff Rigoberto Tiglao also waxed ecstatic, this time over the successful state visit.

"The medium is the message," Tiglao said. He noted that both the words and the body language of the US president showed his genuine friendship with Ms Macapagal-Arroyo and the Philippines.

"He was not in a hurry to leave. Here (at the state dinner), he went around to shake hands, and he was very much at home."

In an interview with Cebu radio station dyLA, another adviser of Ms Macapagal-Arroyo, Heherson Alvarez, interpreted the state visit in terms of the May elections.

"President Bush did not say that you have to vote for (Ms Macapagal) but in effect, he was endorsing the leadership and management style of Mrs. (Macapagal) Arroyo," Alvarez said in Filipino. "What does that mean? ... let's give her a go (in the 2004 elections)."

Alvarez noted that Bush's indirect endorsement came when he pushed for the Armed Forces of the Philippines' modernization program and other economic programs that are vital to the Philippines.

Because Armed Forces modernization is a five-year program, he said, this can only mean that Bush wants to see somebody who will stay as president for another five years or more.

Still another presidential adviser, political liaison officer Jose Ma. Rufino, said Bush's "subtle or indirect endorsement of the leadership made the President look very positive."

Rufino said, however, that this was his "personal opinion."

20/10/2003

Bron : Inq7.net

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