Arroyo has what it takes, say Filipinos

DUBAI - A majority of the Filipinos in the UAE who had been anxiously waiting for the results of the May 10 national elections were elated upon learning that incumbent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her running mate Senator Noli de Castro were proclaimed as president and vice- president at a joint Congress early yesterday morning.

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Published: Fri 25 Jun 2004, 11:13 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:04 PM

The 13-day old canvassing is the second longest vote count in the history of the country's presidential elections. The Congress tally wounded down on June 20, with President Arroyo and Senator Noli de Castro winning over Poe and his running mate Senator Loren Legarda. President Arroyo had won by 1.123 million votes over Fernando Poe Jr.

It may be recalled that the 11,582 absentee voters in the UAE favoured President Arroyo over Fernando Poe. The newly proclaimed president got 5,554 votes, while Mr Poe garnered 2,054 votes. Senator Noli de Castro, meanwhile got 7,228 votes, followed by Senator Loren Legarda with 3,690 votes.

Khaleej Times spoke to a cross-section of Filipino expatriates who were generally pleased with the results of the elections. While others had their own favourite presidential bets, they agreed that President Arroyo, an economist by profession, had the political will to solve the problems of the country.

Leo Nebris, a sales executive at JW Marriot Hotel, said that there should be a continuity of President Arroyo's programmes. "She deserves to be given a fresh six-year term. Detractors will always be there. That is a normal trend in Philippine politics. She has to seriously consider the unemployment rate of the Philippines, with more Filipinos leaving the country's shores for better employment opportunities."

Wilma Condeo, a furniture showroom in-charge and a long-time resident of Dubai, said: "It was my first time to participate in the elections, and I voted for President Arroyo when I cast my ballot at the Philippine Consulate in Dubai. She is well educated and has done quite a lot during her term. She stands out among the presidential candidates. A daughter of our former president, Diosdado Macapagal, Ms Macapagal-Arroyo was a former senator, a vice-president and became president in 2001."

Juanito Carino, a technician at Dubai Ports Authority, said: "I voted for GMA (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's initials) and I am so glad that she was finally proclaimed by the Congress. She has done well during her term as vice-president and president, particularly in key issues such as the economy and unemployment."

Tomas Atienza, a production operator at Dubai Natural Gas, likewise voted for President Arroyo. "I am absolutely elated. If someone else won, the economy will be in the doldrums. She's obviously experienced in politics. She is not vindictive. She's even offering reconciliation, and I am certain that national unity is achievable during her six-year term."

Randolph Cabalhin, manager at Al Tazaj in Dubai, said that President Arroyo was a clear favourite and was more deserving of the position than her rival, Fernando Poe Jr. "During her term, she was able to maintain peace and order and has instituted economic and social reforms. She tried her best to keep the peso-dollar rate stable."

Nazario Biado, a Ras Al Khaimah resident and internal auditor in a bank, said: "GMA deserves to win as she has a strong political machinery, a well-recognised coalition of political parties, and has the experience, being the incumbent President. I am very certain that she can deliver the platform of government she had laid out during her campaign sorties. There would of course be protests from the opposition party but I believe that these will taper off in the coming months."

Leonard Mancao Jr, an artist at Jun's Graphic Design, had an interesting comment to make about Arroyo's victory. "We know very well that Philippine politics is dirty, and the system is corrupt I am glad that Arroyo had cheated and won. A lot of individuals had donated significantly to her campaign funds in a bid to protect their businesses. Now she is indebted to them, and have to return the favour. I am not for Poe, despite being a great actor. I believe that he is being controlled by Joseph Estrada."

Jess Garcia, a photographer-artist at a digital photo shop in Dubai, said: "GMA definitely deserves to win. Ms Macapagal-Arroyo, who came to power in January 2001 after president and former film star Joseph Estrada was thrown out in a military-backed middle class revolt, needs to continue the political, economic and social policies and programmes of her administration. We will expect more mass protests in the streets among the moves to destabilise her government, but Poe's sympathisers will not succeed."

Tessie Anasco, a sales lady at a dress shop in Dubai, said that Ms Macapagal-Arroyo could effectively interact and address world leaders, and represent the country on her foreign visits. "I was not able to vote, but if I was able to exercise my right as an absentee voter, I would choose President Arroyo. Fernando Poe Jr is a movie actor, and is new to politics."

Roberto Bacas, a supervisor at Dubai Aluminium, said: "Ms Macapagal-Arroyo is the most capable compared to the rest of the presidential candidates. She has achieved a lot during her short term in office, and now we should give her a chance to unite the country, which has become extremely divisive. I am confident that under her leadership, she will be able to combat graft and corruption and help improve the economy."

Eric Biglang-Awa, an architect at Holfords Associates, said that he didn't like how the tally of votes in Congress was conducted. "It was done in a rush. If there were anomalies such as vote shaving, these would not be resolved. Nevertheless, I am happy that President Arroyo won. She has a wide experience in politics and can communicate with leaders of different countries."

Rutchill Guiamadin, a secretary at Technosteel Construction, said that she admires President Arroyo who replaced Joseph Estrada in 2001. "She can definitely run the country. Unemployment, providing basic needs to Filipinos, and uniting the country should be among her prime concerns."

Jasmin Panis, a saleslady at Babyland, said: "The national elections were apparently a close fight between Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Fernando Poe Jr. Why settle for a movie star? I believe that President Arroyo should now focus on bridging the gap between the rich and poor and providing education to the less privileged."

Domingo Salazar, cashier at a supermarket in Sharjah, said: "I'm a supporter of Raul Roco, but I am not at all against GMA winning in the elections. We have seen her efforts to improve the economy. I think she should now focus on restoring peace and order in the country. Her opponents obviously could not accept defeat. They should accept the turnout of the elections."

Another Roco supporter, Regoberto dela Cruz, engineer at Al Shaya Trading, said: "Fernando Poe Jr. is new to politics and is not as educated at President Arroyo. I was actually hoping that Raul Roco would win, but I am happy that Arroyo had won. I am optimistic that the economy will be right on track during her term."

Gil Ramos, warehouse supervisor at Sasari Group of Companies, was apparently not too pleased to learn about President Arroyo's proclamation. "I voted for Senator Panfilo Lacson who is a strong leader who can fight graft and corruption in the government. "However, I believe that Arroyo is the lesser evil among the presidential candidates. We will just have to give her the chance to effectively deal with the political turmoil and the sagging economy. We just hope that in her first 100 days in office, she will prove to the Filipino people that she indeed deserves to win the national elections."

Jun Salcedo, customer service assistant at Paris Gallery, appeared non-committal. "If majority of the people voted for her, it's fine by me. Panfilo Lacson should have won as he is the one who could really fight graft and corruption in the government. We cannot do anything about the election results."

Jovelyn Ruiz, a saleslady at Al Amiri International, said: "I've been here for the past six years and have not really taken an interest on Philippine politics. The political situation is still in a mess, and we hope that President Arroyo will continue with whatever she had already started. I would like to see her tackle graft and corruption and unemployment in the country."

Lilibeth Vasquez, a saleslady in a boutique in Bur Dubai, said: "The elections and the tally of votes are finally over and a winner has been declared. I'm a Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) fan, but I don't have any hard feelings. President Arroyo is more experienced, and FPJ can't accept defeat."

Sarah Shaheed, a Filipina married to a Pakistani and works as an assistant at an Internet cafe in Dubai, however, felt that FPJ should have won the elections.

"Although Arroyo has already proven herself as the country's leader, FPJ should have been given a chance to serve us. He is my favourite actor, but I can't say if he is capable to run the country. I only know that he is good, and cares for the masses."

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