Thursday, July 21, 2005

The ice woman

I had a chat recently with one of the Arroyo cabinet members who resigned last July 8. The ex-secretary was upset that many of those who joined Arroyo's cabinet in 2001, including her, bought the president's promises of good and credible governance. The ex-secretary was not only disappointed that Arroyo did not fulfill her promise. The president, who can be emotionally aloof, resisted efforts by her people, including cabinet secretaries and advisers, to engage her emotionally or at a personal level.

"She is a lonely figure," the ex-official said.

The former secretary narrated one incident when, while in the south, the women officials with Arroyo decided to gather. They asked the president to join them. When Arroyo asked them what the meeting was about, she was told that the other female officials just wanted to have some "girl talk," for them and the president to loosen up a bit.

Arroyo wanted them to be specific. So she was told something to the effect that, in case the president deems an official's job to be unsatisfactory, she should tell the official that. If the official did well, it wouldn't hurt to praise the official.

The president replied: "Well, if you're not doing your job properly, you'll definitely hear from me. If you're doing good, don't expect to hear from me. You're not gonna get positive strokes from me." (Or words to that effect.)

The women with the president were stunned.

As you can imagine, that was the first and only time Arroyo's women secretaries and advisers tried to bond with the president.


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