Monday, August 01, 2005

These Asian Times

"We have plenty of plutonium in our nuclear power plants, so it's possible for us to produce 3,000 to 4,000 nuclear warheads." The same year the chief cabinet secretary, Yasuo Fukuda, stunned the nation by claiming Japan's "pacifist" constitution did not prohibit nuclear weapons.

Outsiders could forgive the average Filipino for being cynical, and even that might be too generous a word. In fact most are way past being cynical. A good portion of the more than 80 million Filipinos are so fed up with their keepers, they simply don' t care any more. Instead, they prefer to lampoon their leader, with jokes spread by text messages and, perhaps most hilariously, by making her voice into a wildly popular cell phone ring tone.
What seemed strange at the time was a former president holding a news conference from inside the presidential palace. More than a few people speculated that there had been some kind of soft coup, that Arroyo had become nothing more than a figurehead, with Ramos as the real power in charge. While Ramos laughed off the suggestions, Arroyo's words at the state of the nation address said otherwise. As she commenced her speech, she welcomed and thanked Ramos even before the Senate president, Franklin Drilon, who occupied the chair right behind her. From a protocol standpoint this was a serious blunder. From a political angle, however, it made perfect sense; Drilon, a former staunch ally, had recently dumped Arroyo and asked her to resign.


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