Arroyo Denies Human Rights Violations During Obama Meet
WASHINGTON, D.C.—During the 45-minute meeting between President Barack Obama and Philippine President Gloria Arroyo in the Oval Office, the topic of next year's Philippine elections came up. US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenny, who was at the meeting, told Balitang America that Obama hinted to Arroyo she should make sure the elections push through.
“Obama mentioned the Philippines is one of Asia's oldest democracies and that he hoped that upcoming elections would be really in that tradition,” Ambassador Kenny said.
American officials are already assuming Arroyo will step down, saying she should focus on vital global and domestic issues before she leaves office. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita confimed the American sentiments.
“President Arroyo mentioned the things that she still has to do moving towards the end of her term in 2010. It is another way of saying she expects to come down come 2010,” Secretary Ermita said.
While human rights activists were disappointed that Obama did not mention allegations of human rights violations by the Arroyo government, Kenny says the topic was discussed.
“Topics discussed included our mutual respect for human rights…democracy, and transparency…those were discussed in the various meetings that I was in,” Ambassador Kenny said.
Secretary Ermita said it was Arroyo herself who brought the issue up with Obama. She defended herself against charges of human rights abuses.
Exec. Sec. Ermita: “President Obama never mentioned anything at all about the human rights issues in the Philippines. Obama had not asked President Arroyo about it. But in explaining the goings-on in the Philippines, (Arroyo) mentioned to (Obama), ‘my critics,’ she said, ‘would throw charges against my administration, especially on alleged violations of human rights. And all my critics can do is come out publicly and support it with innuendos.’”
Before Arroyo left Washington, she met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who did did not reveal much.
“We had a very good meeting… about all of the work we are going to do together. I'm very proud of the positive, long relationship that the United States has with the Philippines and I'm going to work to make it even stronger and better,” Clinton said.
A Malacanang source says Clinton did not want footage to be taken of her meeting with Arroyo. No reason was given.