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Arroyo meets Obama

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will today become the first Southeast Asian leader to visit the White House since Barack Obama was elected last year. On the agenda for the two presidents is the global financial crisis, climate change and terrorism — a high priority for the Philippines that has consistently sought U.S. help in ...

582879_090730_GMA_Ted_Aljibe_AFP_Getty_images25.jpg

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will today become the first Southeast Asian leader to visit the White House since Barack Obama was elected last year. On the agenda for the two presidents is the global financial crisis, climate change and terrorism — a high priority for the Philippines that has consistently sought U.S. help in combating Muslim separatists on the southern island of Mindanao.

But back in Manila, the Philippine Daily Inquirer says Obama plans to “lecture Arroyo on democracy” during her visit. Since coming to power in 2001, the Philippine president has fielded numerous allegations of — among others — corruption, extrajudicial killings, torture, bribery and fraud. Arroyo’s attempts to push through a charter change, instituting a unicameral parliamentary form of government and effectively allowing her to extend her term in office past June 2010, has sparked a great deal of opposition.

A recent Social Weather Stations survey revealed that 70 percent of Filipinos are opposed to amending the Constitution. Her current approval rating stands at -31 percent, making even former U.S. President George W. Bush look good.

An estimated 10,000 protestors took to the streets on Monday in yet another anti-Arroyo demonstration. The Philipines has a history of “people power” movements and has twice ousted sitting presidents using popular mobilization. Arroyo (and Obama) would be wise to take heed.

Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty images

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