No political questions…or no questions at all

CLARIFICATION: This is not an official version. This is just added background to what Ellen has written about in her blog.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of the Philippines has been trying to get President Macapagal-Arroyo to say “yes” to what used to be a yearly lunch with the President of the Philippines. For the past two or three years, however, Arroyo has been too busy attending to affairs of the State to break bread with FOCAP, although she had time to meet with the Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC).

The annual lunch used to be a chance for FOCAP to ask the President questions — about all sorts of things. This was where Erap was asked about the Muslim foundation, and where he admitted that some of the jueteng funds went to that foundation (Twink Macaraig, who asked that question, later testified in Erap’s plunder trial).
This was also where Raissa Robles asked Arroyo if she still had time for sex, and her quick answer was: PLENTY. Raissa was one of the few who could ask that question without being offensive, because she had this mild-mannered, no offense way of asking questions. Still, before she asked that question, she told Arroyo SHE DIDN’T HAVE TO ANSWER IT.
Long ago, when presidents attended that lunch affair, they would bring Cabinet secretaries and other government officials with them. Military and police officers would also attend, as well as members of the diplomatic corps.
For the past two or three years, however, Arroyo has been too busy to fit it in with her schedule. There was even a time when it was cancelled an hour or so before the affair.
Still, the invitation is one that FOCAP regularly extends to Malacanang, through the Press Secretary. Recently, to FOCAP’s surprise, Malacanang said it would have an exclusive presscon with FOCAP. A few days before the press conference, Malacanang told FOCAP it was “a go” and mentioned there should be no political questions asked. FOCAP asked Malacanang to reconsider this, as the President is, after all, the country’s chief political leader.
Shortly after, Malacanang reset the presscon, because Press Secretary Dureza was “indisposed.” There was no new date given for the presscon.


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