, FEBRUARY 24, 2008 (STAR) By Marvin Sy - Tiyanak (demon child). Evil. B***h.

To these unflattering remarks about her, President Arroyo has only one thing to say – “Dedma,” an expression in the vernacular that indicates total indifference.

But senators yesterday warned the beleaguered President that her time as the country’s top leader might soon be up as even her own allies have started criticizing her and her administration for massive corruption.

Interviewed by broadcaster Joe Taruc over dzRH yesterday morning on how she is responding to her the name-calling, the President chose the popular term “dedma” to describe her indifference.

Since the controversy over the $329-million national broadband network-ZTE deal broke out, the President has been called several names by opponents and allies alike.

Sen. Jamby Madrigal referred to the President as tiyanak, a creature in local folklore that is supposedly evil, during a speech at the University of the Philippines.

It all started after Senate state witness Rodolfo Lozada Jr. revealed that Commission on Higher Education chairman Romulo Neri called the President “evil” during his conversations with some opposition senators.

Neri, however, said he could not recall describing the President as such. But as soon as word got out about what he reportedly said, critics of Mrs. Arroyo picked up the term to describe her character.

Former speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., who has ended his alliance with the President, reportedly called Mrs. Arroyo an ingrate while her economic adviser and Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said she was a lucky “b***h.”

“Eh ‘yung name-calling, dedma lang ako doon (As far as the name-calling is concerned, I couldn’t care less,)” Mrs. Arroyo said.

On Salceda’s remark, the President acknowledged that she received the text messages of the governor apologizing for his bad joke.

It’s Madam for FVR

But former President Fidel Ramos would rather have nothing to do on the issue of name-calling.

“I would call her ‘Madam,” because of her rank as President,” Ramos told The STAR on the 13th anniversary celebration of the University of the Philippines-Mindanao in Davao City.

Ramos, who was one of the leaders of a bloodless revolt that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, hinted at another people power uprising as he expressed frustration over the return of “tyrannies in the form of self-serving leaders, immoderately greedy autocrats and cliques of corrupt officials.”

Speaking on Thursday during the ceremonies marking the 22nd anniversary of the EDSA people power revolution and in the presence of Mrs. Arroyo, Ramos said, “History might call us to come together again – to offer our lives and fortunes on the altar of our civic ideals.”

Ramos said it had become customary nowadays to denigrate the EDSA events – “perhaps because the greed, the apathy, and the corruption we brought down then are once again rearing their heads.”

The former president made no direct reference to the Arroyo administration in his speech, but warned that Filipinos might have to “come together” to restore the ideals of the 1986 people power revolution, which catapulted Corazon Aquino to the presidency.

Ramos said the EDSA revolt “is a continuing struggle and that there should be no letup in the fight against irregularities.”

“There are oligarchs, dynasties, opportunists we are yet to banish from our political and economic life,” he said. “This means taking actions that enhance, not diminish our democracy; curb corruption and cronyism, implement poverty alleviation and social reform; and ensure justice is delivered to the long suffering and powerless,” he said.

“EDSA is a continuing revolution – an unfulfilled vision we must win without further loss of time and goodwill. Thus, the leaders who are faithful to the Spirit of EDSA are what our nation needs and deserves,” he said.

A matter of time

Voicing the same sentiment, several lawmakers hinted that Mrs. Arroyo’s time might be coming to an end.

“Anyone who thinks of him (Ramos) as a weather vane will say that the time of (Mrs. Arroyo) may soon be up. Otherwise you would hear just words of support from him for (the President),” Sen. Francis Escudero said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, for his part, said, “Anybody who refuses to condemn corruption under the Arroyo regime must be numb or is so compromised to say anything at all.”

“Greed and callousness have become ubiquitous in this administration that even her staunchest allies cannot take it anymore. Those who continue to stick it out must be so deep in mud with her that letting go is no longer an option,” Lacson said.

Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. said the tirades of her own allies must make Mrs. Arroyo “reflect” on her brand of leadership.

He said something must be wrong if the criticisms are coming from her own camp. “We don’t have to do (the attacks and name calling) because they do it themselves,” Villar said. – With Edith Regalado, Aurea Calica

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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