Arroyo temper flares up again

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 07:58:00 08/20/2008

MANILA, Philippines—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s famous temper flashed yet again on Monday, in full view of members of the media.

Journalists assigned to the Palace had just arrived from covering the installation of the bust of ex-Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 when word spread that Ms Arroyo was to give a statement on the Moro rebel attacks in Lanao del Norte, according to the account of Philippine Daily Inquirer photographer Lyn Rillon.

The journalists proceeded to the press briefing room at the New Executive Building (NEB). As they ran up the stairs to the second floor, they met the President dressed in a yellow Callaway golf suit.

Ms Arroyo went direct to the briefing room, where the crew of Radio-TV Malacañang (RTVM) was hurriedly setting up its equipment, and sat on the lone chair on the platform.

“Where is the teleprompter?” she said. And then, apparently annoyed that it was not yet in place, she rose and walked out of the room.

Flurry of activity

It was a little past noon, according to Rillon.

The room was a flurry of activity. An RTVM member said the teleprompter had just been brought back from NAIA 3 and was in transit to the NEB.

A close-in officer of the Presidential Security Group stepped in and out of the room, inquiring urgently how much more time it would take to set up the teleprompter, and requesting to be informed so he could tell Ms Arroyo.

“Sabihan nyo kami para ma-feedback namin,” the officer said.

Fifteen minutes or so, someone said.

Another RTVM member hurried to hang the presidential seal on the blue wall directly behind Ms Arroyo’s chair.

Hoping to catch the President as she walked through the door from a passageway connecting the NEB to the Premier Guest House, Rillon took a position at the end of the narrow corridor.

This was how the photographer narrated the encounter:

Ms Arroyo came through the door, saw Rillon aiming the camera at her, and said in a raised voice: “Huwag mo akong kuhanan ng litrato (Don’t take my picture)!”

Surprised at the unexpected anger, Rillon stepped back and Ms Arroyo swept past.

Take 2, 3

In the briefing room, the President curtly announced that there would be no press conference but just a taping of her statement on the fighting in Kolambugan.

Then she again appeared impatient and asked for the teleprompter: “Where is it now?”

She stood up, strode through the side door straight to the cramped control room at the back of the briefing area, where RTVM personnel were setting up the audio and video systems, and walked out again.

It took 10 more minutes for the Palace staff to get the camera and teleprompter in place.

When she entered the room for the third time, Ms Arroyo was flushed.

She delivered a statement condemning attacks by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on some towns in Lanao del Norte. She announced an emergency National Security Council (NSC) meeting in Malacañang, then, she quickly left the room.

Later, her image director Lupita Kashiwahara explained that the taping of Ms Arroyo’s statement was to have been done in the Palace’s Rizal Hall but that miscommunication led to its being held in the briefing room, with members of the media as audience but no questions allowed.

‘Very normal reaction’

Defending his boss’ show of temper, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza Tuesday said Ms Arroyo merely wanted to send her message to the troops right away.

Dureza said that early on Monday following the MILF attacks, Ms Arroyo had already wanted to issue her statement and directives.

“She was insistent on immediately getting her orders and clear message out because things were happening badly in Lanao del Norte at that time,” Dureza said.

He described Ms Arroyo’s behavior as “a very normal reaction coming from a President who is facing a big disturbance there in Lanao, and she wanted her message immediately out and announced.”

No laptop throwing

“That presidential announcement being an hour or 30 minutes late can mean a lot on the ground,” he added.

Press Undersecretary Jose Capadocia also denied that Ms Arroyo had thrown a laptop in disgust.

“Contrary to the TV report, there was no such laptop-throwing incident,” said Capadocia, who was with the President during the taping of her statement. Reports from Lyn Rillon and Christine O. Avendaño


My Take:

Now, that’s our President.

So never wonder why she runs our country like mad.

Oops. I did not say she’s crazy huh? 🙂

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