Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms.  This article was published in Business Mirror, April 26 , 2006 edition, p. A10.

In Cavite last Friday, the police were forced to move against a group of unruly demonstrators who disturbed the peace of the number one disturbance in the country. The riotous group held up “No to cha-cha” and “pahirap sa mahirap, patalsikin si GMA” signs, one of them even shouted “patalsikin si GMA”, while Mrs.Arroyo was speaking.

It was wrong for the demonstrators to act in that manner because they embarrassed the embarrassment of the nation.

Be that as it may, the Palace response to the incident was surprisingly muted. The usual attack dogs remained leashed in their kennels.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez passed up the chance, resisted the temptation, some would say, to comment on Maria Theresa Pangilinan despite the fact that she was female. Mike Defensor, Mrs. Arroyo’s personal valet, could only mumble something about better security measures in the future, thus depriving Ms. Pangilinan the opportunity for the perfect riposte, “that was my voice but I was not the one shouting.”

Only presidential spokesman  Ignacio Bunye addressed the incident and indirectly at that. In his weekly internet column, Bunye answered the “pahirap sa mahirap, patalsikin si GMA” banner by recalling that Finance Secretary Teves predicted a balanced budget by 2008.

Bunye followed Teves’ remarks with his own upbeat politico-economic report, “the favorable economic outlook is backed by steady gains in revenue collection, consistent austerity measures, results in the anti-graft campaign, the rationalization of the bureaucracy, and growing political and economic stability.”

So “ginhawa” is coming soon?

Bunye cited three resource persons to support his claim. At the top of his list, naturally, was a foreign news report that said, “Argentina of Asia label no longer fits.”

William Pessek of Bloomberg wrote, “those angling to oust Pres. Arroyo may be proving precisely that the Philippines, unpredictable as it is, enjoys growing political stability…with each incarnation of People Power the number taking to the streets is declining.” Although Pessek hedged his rosy outlook in between commas, it was good enough for Bunye.

Bunye presented the usual expert from the local stock market as his next witness. She recited the standard litany about the stock market and the peso. Luz Lorenzo of ATR Key Eng Securities said, “what the world seemed to miss is the stock market didn’t plunge, the peso did not collapse and bond yields did not shoot up. And the people didn’t panic.”  But the world did not miss the fact that Mrs. Arroyo panicked and declared a state of emergency.

Anyway, Bunye reserved the best for last. His final witness was a call center employee. Franco Reyes, the voice of the self-emasculating middle class, said, “It’s not that the president has our support but who wants to support these people desiring to take over? They are not offering much of an alternative or better ideas so why follow them?”

Bunye titled his column, “No longer Argentina of Asia”. He’s correct. Argentina is one of the world’s largest exporters of beef. They have a lot of cattle. And a lot of bulls. The Philippines, on the other hand, does not have a cattle industry worth mentioning. We are not like Argentina in that sense. However, we do have something in common with Argentina. We have an overabundance of bull.

“Consistent austerity measures, results in the anti-graft campaign, the rationalization of the bureaucracy, and growing political and economic stability,” said the man who was caught lying for his boss who was caught cheating.

That’s why I do not like shouting “patalsikin si GMA” and why I prefer shouting “pangit!” It’s one word that aptly describes what GMA and her gang are doing to our country.