LULI ARROYO LASHES OUT AT MOM'S CRITICS

MABALACAT, PAMPANGA, March 31, 2004
 
(STAR)
By Ding Cervantes ó Real, real comedy.

This was how the usually demure presidential daughter Lourdes Evangeline "Luli" Arroyo described the piling disqualification cases being filed against her mother, President Arroyo.

Mrs. Arroyoís only daughter said fighting words against her momís critics, sparing no one from the opposition including comedy king Dolphy.

"The disqualification cases are really comedy. Parang ĎO sige, mag-imbento pa kayo!í (Itís like saying, okay, invent more accusations)," she said during a forum with Capampangan businessmen and professionals at the Feliciano College here yesterday.

"The opposition likes to say that (the Presidentís done nothing) the past three years but then they are also complaining she is using government projects (to promote her candidacy), so what is it really?"

The 32-year-old Arroyo said the oppositionís ignorance of what governance is signaled their vacuity.

She, however, said her family is not bothered by the controversies surrounding the President. "Thatís fine, thatís expected," she said, adding that "theyíd (opposition) rather disqualify her because they have no platform to pursue."

The youngest of the Arroyo children also reacted to reports that comedian Dolphy, during a political rally in Cebu over the weekend, had referred to her mother as "tonto" (stupid).

"He is a comedian so what can you say?" Luli asked, noting that when the camp of opposition presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. was in Cebu at the same time as the administration bets were, people saw the contrast in their campaigns ó substance versus glitter.

"May nagsabing si FPJ ang dala puro artista kasi when I went there, I visited the medical mission thatís a continuing program there. So even the people there noticed the contrast between them na puro artista ang dala (pero) wala namang programa, wala namang plataporma at yung nanay ko patuloy pa ring nagtratrabaho bilang pangulo," she said.

But she stressed that many others in the entertainment industry are aware of her motherís accomplishments and are supportive of the Presidentís bid for a full six-year term.

"The reason they say nothing has been done over the past three years is that they donít know what governance is all about. If Dolphy asked all those people who were promised by his friend Erap (former President Estrada) some security over their lands, (they would have said that) my mother was the one who fulfilled it," she said.

Luli pointed out that the Arroyo administration has distributed the biggest number of socialized housing and brought electricity to more barangays than any other administration.

The young Arroyo also said she would continue to defer her plans to become a diplomat if her mother wins in May. Two years ago she topped the government examinations for foreign service, but she said she had asked the her mother not to sign her appointment to avoid charges of nepotism.

"Itís awkward if my mother would be the appointing authority, so I will have to defer my plans again (if Mrs. Arroyo wins a six-year term). I donít want to burden her further (from possible criticisms that could be triggered by her appointment). Itís a matter of principle," she added.

Arroyo said that her family, despite their separate involvements in the campaign for the mater de familia, has remained solid.

"I always pray for my mother. I pray for wisdom for her and strength that she can surpass all the problems for the sake of our country. And I also pray that she wins," she said.

They each have their own assignment in the campaign, she said, recalling the Fernans of Cebu who had nine children, while the Arroyos are only three.

As for eldest brother Pampanga Vice Gov. Mikey Arroyo, who is running for congressman, Luli said that kuya really doesnít need her help because people in his district already say that theyíll vote for him.

"People know that as vice governor, he was responsible and he was able to fulfill is duties and I think they are happy with his performance so I think he will be voted as congressman. Weíre not worried about him," she said.

She said that her family still sees to it that they all have at least one weekend meal together. "But itís no longer always for a Sunday lunch because of our differing schedules," she noted, adding that her family talks about politics and family matters during their weekend get-togethers.

"My parents now have two grandchildren that we talk about as a family," she said.

Luli herself has not really thought of settling down, but says that the lucky guy should be "mabait (kind), competent, and who has the same moral values as mine."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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