EVEN before she could deliver her eighth state of the nation address (SONA) this coming Monday, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has already been weighed and found wanting by over 80 former senior government officials.

Some of the FSGO members [photo by Isa Lorenzo]In their own take on the state of the nation after seven years of the Arroyo administration, the former officials, who served in the four post-Marcos governments and collectively called FSGO, castigated the President for being “the worst threat to the state of our nation.”

“The person pretending to tell us about the dire state of our nation next Monday,” FSGO said, “is the very same same person who has done the most to destroy the very foundation of our nation, sell its future to its exploiters and abusers, and consign the poor and middle class to deeper poverty and worse despair.”

The group identified seven curses that it said Arroyo has wrought upon the nation.

1. The curse of a country unable to feed its own people

FSGO noted that rice self-sufficiency was a priority in Arroyo’s first SONA in 2001 and that she reiterated the promise of food on every table in her 2003 address. “Yet, in every year throughout her administration thus far, the country was importing increasing quantities of rice every year, that this year the Philippines achieved an odd milestone in rice self-sufficiency: our becoming the world’s largest rice importer.”

Read the FSGO’s pre-SONA statement.

The government has also failed to implement the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization program, says FSGO. It adds that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has never received P17 billion in incremental funds provided for by law. Worse, the President “let loose” people like Jocelyn ‘Joc-Joc’ Bolante in the DA. A former agriculture undersecretary, Bolante has been implicated in diverting P728 million in fertilizer funds allegedly for Arroyo’s 2004 election campaign.

Furthermore, the agricultural trade deficit ballooned to over P1.5 billion in 2006.

“The high food prices pushing more people into hunger and poverty are a direct result of our government’s neglect of agriculture,” the group added.

2. The curse of worsening poverty and increasing disparity between the rich and poor

This, said FSGO, is due to “economic mismanagement that ignores the needs of the many to serve the interests of the few.” It pointed out that the ranks of the unemployed number 2.9 million, while another seven million are looking for additional work to supplement their income.

Poverty incidence increased to 26.9 percent in 2006 from 24.4 percent in 2004. This means that there are 4.6 million poor families. Elementary school attendance fell to 83.2 percent in the school year of 2006-2007 compared to 90.3 percent just three years ago.

Again, the group said, the government is to blame. “Public education’s ability to rescue poor families from the poverty trap has suffered due to severe underspending by the government.”

The Estrada administration had a “more constrained” budget, but it spent P5,830 per student from 1998-2001 while the Arroyo government spent only P5,304 per student from 2001-2006. The country remains one of the lowest spenders on education in Southeast Asia, FSGO pointed out. Once a leader in education-for-all indicators during the 90s, the country now lags behind Indonesia, Mongolia and Vietnam.

3. The curse of deteriorating basic social services essential to the survival and welfare of the people

“Our current fiscal state was improved, not by sold revenue effort, but by deep cuts in social and economic spending,” FSGO said, pointing to the government’s allocation of resources for development expenditures which has been the lowest in the region. Worse, the group said, the allocation, management and use of public funds are “marked by such greed and disregard of the public good that can only be condemned as scandalous.”

While much of Visayas was being devastated by Typhoon Frank last month, Arroyo and her entourage were on a “junket” to the U.S., said FSGO, estimating the cost of the Philippine delegation visit to be at least P300 million. “In contrast, how much did our government spend on relief for the typhoon victims?” asked the group. Of the eight million people affected by disasters from 2004 to 2006, it said, only half received assistance from the government and private sector.

Meanwhile, a Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, already contracted and delivered in 1997, has yet to be implemented by the Department of Transportation and Communication.

4. The curse of the national government gripped by a metastatic cancer of corruption

The Philippines has made a dismal showing in global corruption rankings. In 2007, it was reported as the “most corrupt” among ten of East Asia’s leading economies by the World Bank. In 2005, Transparency International ranked the Philippines in the category of countries perceived to suffer from severe corruption, the 117th most corrupt out of 159 countries.

“Corruption has become pervasive, persistent, prolific. And the President, instead of fighting it, has become its prime practitioner and protector,” said FSGO, accusing Arroyo of corrupting “the already weak” electoral process, “the already diminished” civil service, and the “already politicized” public investment and fiscal programs.

5. The curse of wanton abuse of presidential prerogatives

FSGO said that the balance of power within the Arroyo administration between its “dark and bright sides” has tipped radically in favor of the dark side. “A new type of presidential appointee along the Joc-Joc Bolante brand dominates. The appointments of others already rejected by the electorate in 2007 will further darken the complexion of her Cabinet.”

Social Security Services administrator Romulo Neri merits special mention. Neri, a former socioeconomic planning secretary and higher education chairman, “became one of the keepers of evil secrets, protected by the talisman of ‘executive privilege’ as long as he remains in a Cabinet position.”

The government has also been packed with ineligible bureaucrats.

6. The curse of an illegitimate president

The president has consistently promised clean, computerized elections — in her 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006 SONAs. But the group said that after seven years, she has yet to take any sure steps toward this. Nor does her recent appointment of unknown commissioners to the Commission on Elections bode well for future elections.

“President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo promised us a strong Republic. We have realized that she is running a stolen Republic. Thus far, we have seen her trying to keep only what was stolen.”

7. The curse of a nation robbed of its dignity, unity and future

Aside from the country’s “global reputation for pervasive corruption, ” the Philippines has also been investigated by international organizations for extra-judiical killings. FSGO said that our national patrimony, from mineral resources to possible oil deposits have been peddled to foreign interests like ukay-ukay (used clothing). “The loss of our country’s good international standing and credibility has been a sad victim of Arroyo’s bad governance.”

While the President cites the legions of overseas Filipino workers as an achievement of her administration, the group warned of the ills of a remittance-driven economy, including reduced competitiveness of manufacturing and tradeables from export and impot-competing sectors, and less demand on infrastructure, which has led to less necessary public investment.

FSGO described this type of economy as “limited and self-undermining because remittances cannot be expected to remain high and grow at an increasing rate.”

In response to the FSGO statement, Presidential Management Staff chief Cerge Remonde told the Inquirer: “These people would know how difficult and how challenging governance is…this administration can stand on its record, and its record is better than how [they] managed their respective government positions during their time.”

FSGO, however, disagreed. In an internal survey among its members, the former government officials rated the current administration a dismal 1.1 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest.

Despite its bleak assessment, however, FSGO remains hopeful. It plans to continue working with political institutions as “instruments for reform and justice, not parties to anomalies and scandals,” and to continue the “search for a presidency that fights the enemies of social justice instead of serving its cronies.”

“We can re-imagine the nation as something far better and more capable than the one that the President will paint in her SONA this Monday,” the group said. “This administration may have stolen the Republic, but it will not rob us of our hopes.”

13 Responses to The ‘seven curses’ of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo



July 27th, 2008 at 12:00 pm

80 former government officials weighed and found GMA wanting. Sounds like Lino Brocka’s blockbuster film, “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang-Kulang”. :)


nosi balasi

July 28th, 2008 at 6:37 am

yeah…GMA is kulang kulang.



July 28th, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Centuries ago, Francisco Balagtas Baltazar has this words of wisdom, “sapagkat ang haring (includes reyna) may hangad sa yaman ay mariing hampas ng langit sa bayan.



July 28th, 2008 at 11:45 pm

nosi, chill out :) “kulang-kulang” means dalawang ulit na nagkulang. (no mental deformity is alluded to).:)


take this one also from Francisco Balagtas:

Sa loob at labás, ng bayan kong sawî
Kaliluha’y siyang nangyayaring harî
Kagalinga’t, bait ay nalulugamî
Ininís sa hukay nang dusa’t, pighatî.

Ang magandang asal ay ipinupukól
Sa láot ng dagat ng kutya’t, lingatong
Balang magagalíng ay ibinabaón
At inililibing na waláng kabaong.

Ngunit ay ang lilo’t, masasamang loób
Sa trono ng puri ay iniluluklok
At sa balang sukáb na may asal hayop
Mabangong incienso ang isinusuob.

lahat na nasa trono, hindi lang GMA, et. al., pati na mga miyembro ng kongresso at Korte Supreme pare-parehas lang iyan na nasa trono, makakamandag,sukab at hudas.


nosi balasi

July 29th, 2008 at 2:17 am

ayos mga makata…


Corruption » Survival mode

July 30th, 2008 at 2:11 pm

[…] The ’seven curses’ of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo“Corruption has become pervasive, persistent, prolific. And the President, instead of fighting it, has become its prime practitioner and protector,” said FSGO, accusing Arroyo of corrupting “the already weak” electoral process, … […]



August 2nd, 2008 at 8:44 pm




August 4th, 2008 at 9:56 pm

The GMA is Administration is dead & done .with less than 2 years to go, i do not see any possible scenrio where this country rise up from poverty..The Arroyo administration has already earned its place in Philippine History,and its something no one could be proud of..


nosi balasi

August 5th, 2008 at 11:29 am

as the post say:…”While the President cites the legions of overseas Filipino workers as an achievement of her administration, the group warned of the ills of a remittance-driven economy, including reduced competitiveness of manufacturing and tradeables from export and impot-competing sectors, and less demand on infrastructure, which has led to less necessary public investment.”

wow…kakaibang lider ng isang bansa…pinagmamalaki ni GMA na isa sa achievements niya na ang magpadala ng maraming pinoy sa labas ng pinas para magtrabaho…di niya alam siya ang dahilan kung bakit kailangan magkalayo ang isang pamilya para mabuhay lamang sa pilipinas ng maayos at di nagugutom…ako nakarating dito sa Carribean Islands na walang tulong ng Gobyerno ni GMA, bagkus nagbayad pa ako sa POEA para sa PDOS program at OEC nila na wala naman additional value sa pagpunta ko dito…wala na ngang katinuan itong si GMA buwang na talaga, di niya naisip kung gaano kahirap mapalayo sa isang pamilya at mamuhay na magisa…nakakapanggigil ng laman ang isang tulad mo GMA…sana danasin mo at ng iyong mga anak ang maghirap sa ibang bansa.


nosi balasi

August 5th, 2008 at 11:33 am

isang napakalaking insulto sa isang tulad kong ofw, na gawin mo kaming isa sa iyong achievements…..samatalang naghihirap ang aming damdamin at kalooban…at habang naghihirap ang bawat pamilya namin sa Pilipinas….isipin mo nga GMA buwang.


nosi balasi

August 5th, 2008 at 11:43 am

wala na sigurong maisip na achievements itong si GMA…pati OFW’s gagawing achievements…over yata sa vitamins si GMA…naisip pa niya yun…OFW achievements. Ngek.



August 5th, 2008 at 7:47 pm

Reading the manifesto of former senior government officials about the 7 curses of GMA administration, I get the feeling that only those outside the government are gifted geniuses who have the solutions to our poverty, moral decay and corruption.

I seek solace in Samuel Johnson (British writer, 1709-1784), who said:

“You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables.”

Did these senior government officials make tables before? Were they bad tables?

I can say that I earn a right to say that GMA made a bad table because I have not been a government official, but for those who had been in the government cannot look back when they were outside it and tell someone that she made bad tables!!!

Alecks, this is known as playing “devil’s advocate” so we can achieve balance in PCIJ blog.



August 5th, 2008 at 8:07 pm


I quote Robert Redford:

“All critics are fueled by their own failed ambitions. I can’t tell you the number of critics who slip me a script on the side. Then, they rip you apart as an actor because you haven’t responded to their screenplay”.

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