Getting Used To It

Buencamino does political affairs analysis for the NGO Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in the newspaper Today, page 9, 26 June 2004 edition.

Mike Arroyo is a caring husband who gave up his own ambitions and devoted his life to supporting and advancing his wife’s only ambition. Lucky, indeed, is the woman who can find a husband like Mike.

Mike Arroyo has been the target of all kinds of personal attacks from day one of his wife’s un-elected term. He has been accused of many things that I personally believe he is incapable of doing. Many of the attacks on his person are libelous, or at the very least, bordering on libel. But to be fair to his detractors, some accusations merit a closer look, and to be fair to Mike, he has not been convicted of anything .

Mike Arroyo has always taken baseless accusations in stride. The
innuendo about an alleged affair with a married woman named Vicky Toh was grossly unfair, not only to Mike and his family but to Ms. Toh and her family as well. The accusation that he was Jose Pidal was proven baseless when his younger brother came forward and identified himself as Jose Pidal. And any hint that there was something illegal about the Jose Pidal account was cleared by the President herself when she told Max Soliven that the Jose Pidal funds were purely personal and came exclusively from unspent political contributions. The fact that she filed an election spending report stating she had no money left over from campaign contributions didn’t bother her or Max, so why should it bother us?

Mike Arroyo knows that politically motivated personal attacks come with the territory. He doesn’t mind being used as his wife’s shield. He even allows the incompetents around his wife to use him as a deflector. He has weathered so many false accusations over the last three years that I wondered if there was any breaking point to this strong and noble man. I got my answer several days ago.

Mike Arroyo filed libel charges against Francisco Tatad for accusing him of cheating in the recently concluded national elections. Those accusations were printed in some Manila dailies. Mike Arroyo said that Tatad and the stories portray him as the “chief cheater” in the elections.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that, “The stories, according to Arroyo’s complaint, said that he was involved in election fraud as he had looked ‘to purchase COCs (certificates of canvass) with the aid of military personnel and government officials’ around the country, particularly in Mindanao.”

Mike Arroyo said, “It’s not true I was in Mindanao after the elections. I was in Manila and many people can attest to that…” There you are. Mike Arroyo was not in Mindanao. He was in Manila. He can produce witnesses. Tatad and company cannot produce witnesses.

Can you imagine not responding to a false accusation of engaging in bi-local activities? Neither could Mike— who is straight. He did the right thing and filed his charges in the proper venue.

I hope Mike wins, not because I do not value freedom of speech, or I think Mike is right and Kit is wrong, but because I don’t like Kit. It’s really the civil society way. They’ll be around for a long time. We might as well all get used to it.

I wish Mr. Arroyo a happy birthday, and may he have many happy returns (no pun intended).

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