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Heartburn Over Two Big Meals


President Obama and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo talk in the Oval Office on July 30. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's visit to the White House on July 30 didn't draw much attention, and her dinner in Washington that night got nary a mention. And that's how it might have stayed -- if not for a controversial meal in New York City.

Arroyo is under fire in her native country for a $20,000 meal at Manhattan's Le Cirque on Aug. 2, which included caviar and several bottles of champagne. The dinner, first reported in the New York Post, has Arroyo's critics comparing her to the extravagant Imelda Marcos.

The Reliable Source has learned that three days earlier, Arroyo and an entourage of about 65 people (including security and food tasters) had dinner at Bobby Van's Steakhouse on 15th Street NW hours after she met with President Obama. The group took over one of the restaurant's private rooms and dined on lobster, steak and fine wines; at the conclusion of the meal, an unidentified woman opened a handbag stuffed with cash, counted out bills and paid the $15,000 tab -- which included a generous tip.

The Philippine Embassy did not return calls for comment Tuesday.


By The Reliable Source  |  August 12, 2009; 1:02 AM ET
 
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Comments

The problem with many of the Philippines' politicians is that they feel that they deserve all the government funds they have in their hands and that they don't need to explain to the people how they use it. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is not loved by the people of the Philippines, but somehow she still gains support from other political parties thus enabling her to do what she wants as long as she is in power.

Posted by: quayevano | August 12, 2009 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Agree with quayaveno...

So lavish, the money spent on this second dinner alone could have fed one poor family living with less than a dollar a day for the next 41 years!!....sad story..

Posted by: juliusduenas1 | August 12, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

So lavish..the USD 15,000 meal alone can support a poor family (living for a dollar per day) for the next 41 years...ei that is more self fullfilling than eating lobster and steak...guess what its my country and thats how corrupt politicians do their things....

Posted by: juliusduenas1 | August 12, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

While many are added daily to the number of Filipinos who’re being reduced to eating rubbish as food/meal, while many Filipinos are losing jobs, cannot find work, are homeless…are hopeless…helpless…live unbelievable miserable existence…

…when government which is supposed to utilize its full power and resources to help and look after the poor and marginalized, to do something to ease their sufferings, alleviate their plight, save them from the vicious cycle of poverty…

…Arroyo, her husband, family, friends and her legion of unprincipled Lakas-Kampi hyenas, CONCERN THEMSELVES, USING THEIR TALENTS, TIME AND EFFORT – and the government’s full power and resources - IN AMASSING WEALTH AND FORTIFYING THEIR STATUS AND ‘TERRITORY’ THROUGH UNABASHED and SHAMELESS PRACTICE OF CORRUPT TRANSACTIONAL AND PATRONAGE POLITICS.

Frankly speaking this news about her and her pack’s excesses is nothing new and unexpected…

In fact some of her allies are even saying what‘s US$20,000? Even telling of how some of them were actually disappointed they were beaten to the draw on shouting for the ‘simple’ meal...yep, these are politicians from a 3rd world country talking...

Sad to say, such is the curse that has - again - afflicted the Filipino nation today.

We have a dubious president who reneged on her promise not to run and was caught giving orders to national election officials in the midst of vote counting…who lied and continue to lie again and again, is tagged in cases of corruption, abuses and thievery again and again…who hides from the protection of her greedy pack of little unprincipled partymates and corrupt bureaucrats...ruling thru the corrupt carrot and stick of patronage politics...

And that’s why former Philippine President Cory Aquino AS HER LAST STAND, CRUSADE AND ADVOCACY called for the resignation of gloria macapagal arroyo…QUEEN of rotten, stinking and disgusting corrupt patronage politics in the Philippines…

.

Posted by: jdc3 | August 12, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Gloria Arroyo has done well as president of the Republic - her networth has gone up(despite the global economic troubles), her statements of assets and liabilities has proven that. She has continued to run our country with a rubber stamp congress by her side. No one will ever succeed in impeaching her simply because her goons and cronies (who happen to be congressmen of the majority) continue to protect her. "She who has the gold makes the rules." And forget the Constitution of the Republic because she doesn't give a hoot what we think or feel as long as she gets what she wants - and so far she has done that. Taxes, taxes and more taxes. The poor get poorer and the rich? Ask her.

Posted by: kinakinkid | August 12, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

The Philippine Congress wherein the House of Reps. is compose mostly of Arroyo's allies gave the "malacanang squatter" a hefty sum of Php. 3,010,186,000 in it's 2009 General Appropriation Act or budget aside from Php2 billion Calamity Fund and Php800 million Contingent Fund. Many items are descretionary funds not subject to regular audit. One item is called Conduct of Special Mission and under this item is called Provision for Local/Foreign Visit of the President with an appropriation of Php244,616,000.00 or USD4,800,000.00. Under Philippine standard that budget is way too high. It's August already and probably they are trying use all the amount. Recall that The House was able to block three impeachment attempts against Arroyo using their numbers. Virtually, it's a "I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine" situation and that's why Arroyo has that habit of towing a lot congressmen whenever she visit a "beautiful place".(%#@$)

Posted by: sdeasis | August 12, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I guess our government's fuming. AGAIN.

As private individuals, they could wine and dine all they want, especially if the money didn't come from taxpayers. But given the economic status of our country, then wining and dining is something that seems out of moral bounds.

With all these coming out, I'm now wishing that our country was richer so that it would be okay for most (if not all) to wine and dine at various costs (maybe including the absurd) but without criticism.

Posted by: AisadelaCruz | August 12, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Well..
[During the great depression] people came to believe that free market capitalism had failed. ... [So] if private spending [wasn't] enough to maintain full employment, then government could always step in and spend enough to make up the difference. The theory of pump priming was born. [It] was a godsend to politicians who had been grasping at any expedient [,who] throughout the ages, had been only too willing to spend money provided they didn't have to tax their citizens to pay for. all premature while spending blossom for meals?? yes entitlemnet would be recession, in what ever they consumed....
reg
others

Posted by: coolknifes | August 12, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

In 2010 elections the Filipinoos should know now and learn to be educated to and who to choose because this Congressman affiliated with president Arroyo are not serving their constituents but for the interest of arroyo in exchange for some favors, this is the worst govt. we the Filipinos have, without the OFW remittances probaly the govt.is bankrupt this is also the reason why they are not afraid to spend money out of the taxpayers, what former President Cory Aquino's example is the opposite of arroyo lets wait if she dies how the Filipinos people will do

Posted by: donnabel_adriano | August 12, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

That's the kind of government we have today. The attitude, the gall of the people running the government, including politicians, is - sorry folks, we can spend money, the people's money, whatever or whatchamacallit because it's not ours.
They are not even fit to be lined up at Luneta to be shot at - nobody will spare a bullet for them. A rope noose is much better.

Posted by: renebacs | August 12, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Arroyo is the worsts Philippine president I have encountered.A total opposite of former President Aquino who was a symbol of democracy. Arroyo is a symbol of a power-hungry lunatic. Shame on her.

The Philippines is furious and cant wait for her to be removed from power.

Posted by: technospecs | August 12, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

in a country where there is only the few very rich and the rest wallowing in different levels of poor and about 80% are dirt poor, living below the poverty line, could barely afford one decent meal a day, dining on a $15k or $20k, eating caviar and drinking pricey wines is obscene, callous, anomalous and (you know what else i want to say).

the irony is we are a rich country considering our abundant natural resources and intelligent and creative human resources (who would rather work abroad because there are no opportunities at home).

that is why many want to enter politics and get elected or appointed to government positions--the get-rich-quick career. corruption and fraud is endemic in government and business sector.

they will get their comeuppance. God knows.

Posted by: Moje1 | August 12, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

The dinner is one justification of her numerous lies to the filipinos. they have spend lavishly our money which we earned through hardship labor. Shame to all members of the entourage. Many filipinos are craving for better food, shelter and others but here the president spending for her own advantage. She is not a good president, she should resign now now now. This is too ridiculous and to much beyond acceptable norms

Posted by: federicocolobong | August 12, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

I don't know how Mrs. Arroyo can eat these lavish meals knowing that there are people in her country who could not even afford to eat 3 times a day. And I don't how she can go to church and even face people.

This is embarrassing.

Posted by: tinkerbell128 | August 12, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

I cannot imagine how these government officials can live with themselves knowing that they are betraying the people's trust by wasting taxpayer's money. However they twist the story around, they are using taxpayer's money (indirectly or directly) to foot the bill for these gastronomic food trips. What's worse is their actions only serve to destroy the reputation of the country. Ten to twenty years from now nobody will remember these government officials, but what will remain in people's memory is that Philippine government officials are self serving and one of the most corrupt in the world. How do you expect long term investors to invest in such a country?

Posted by: sytimm | August 12, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

The Filipino people should be thankful to this kind of information provided by this blog. Because while it certainly put the country in more bad light (as Philippines is already regarded as one of the most corrupt countries worldwide, thanks to President Arroyo!), the report is a welcome revelation because for one, it adheres to responsible media practice where an event, no matter how damaging, is reported to the public. Most importantly, this blog report definitely confirmed the lingering and open corruption which the Arroyo government practices. This report on steak house dinner and the other New York dinner is appreciated for without this, the Filipino people are deprived of the chance to know how insensitive, corrupt and evil their President is. Again, thanks to Ms. Roberts and Ms. Argetsinger!

Posted by: len_yano | August 13, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Gloria Arroyo is the complete opposite of Cory Aquino.

Posted by: epsotto | August 13, 2009 2:15 AM | Report abuse

The world is not going anywhere as long as there are selfish, narcissistic, self centered people. I haven't heard bad things about the former Pres. Macapagal so Gloria should be ashamed of her self. She should carry the legacy of her father. The filipino people are easy to love and be loved. We are very compassionate. Look around you Mrs. President Gloria M. Arroyo, a lot of filipino are hungry and has to leave the country and work abroad. Life outside your own country is not fun at all. You need to wake up and smell the cup of coffee.

Posted by: marigoldarevalo | August 13, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree with you, Marigold. I think it would be best if she drops the Macapagal on her name because what she's doing is a big insult to her father's name. She is a big joke to the noble Filipino race. I hope that next election, the Filipino people will be wise enough in choosing persons of dignity and values as their leaders.

Posted by: mamabel312 | August 13, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

GMA is really a disgrace to the Philippines and it's people. She deserves to be incarcerated or executed for her despicable actions. She's the worst of its kind.. "Hello Garci?"

Posted by: kamote_ako | August 13, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

GMA AND HER ENTOURAGE ARE OPPORTUNISTS TO THE MAX! THEY TOOK THE OPPORTUNITY TO DINE AND WINE AT EXPENSIVE RESTAURANTS SIMPLY BECAUSE THE MONEY WON'T BE COMING FROM THEIR POCKETS. THEY THOUGHT GOING TO THOSE PLACES WOULD BE SOMETHING TO ENJOY (EXPLOIT) FOR A RECORD, SOMETHING TO BE PROUD OF...TO BOAST TO FRIENDS AND FAMILIES BACK HOME.... "I'VE BEEN THERE!"

UNFORTUNATELY FOR THEM, THEY WOULD BE REMEMBERED FOR THEIR CALLOUSNESS IN THE LIGHT OF GLOBAL CRISES AND BLATANT POVERTY AT HOME.

THEY COULD HAVE JUST GONE TO CHEAPER PLACES OR EVEN TO "EAT ALL YOU CAN" DINNERS WHICH OFFER ARRAYS OF INTERNATIONAL CUISINES. LOBSTERS AND STEAKS? THERE ARE MORE DELICIOUS, LESS COSTLY CHOICES SOMEWHERE ELSE. THE BOTTOM LINE WAS GMA AND COMPANY JUST WANTED TO BE IN THOSE FAMOUS EXPENSIVE RESTAURANTS.

MGA GARAPAL TALAGA!

Posted by: pnayglobetrotter | August 13, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree with mmabel312 provided that she doesn't cheat election again.
I am a foreigner living in this beautiful country for 13 months. People, country, all this is unbelivable beautiful, but I really hate GMA and her administration fully corrupted from the bottom to the top. When she appreas on TV I zao the channel..... The FG is even worst with all those confilct of interets he is involved in; few companies as shareholer, lawyer or counsel. Having doubled their wealth in 6 years.....This is really disgusting. Even though Mrs Aquino has not been a great president (she said the herself)was not like this; her worst mistake has been to disgrace F. Marcos that a lot of Pinoy agree today that he has been one of the best president for Philippines, and now regret his iron hand. This country deserves some one very strong, not corrputed, eventually a tyran to lead all these very agreable people, always singing, whom the sun and music are more then anything else. All of them complaint about dirt, but everyone thow his waste in the gutter; it stink, but no one clean the canals they throw garbagges in ??? But all are happy like me to live in this naturally VERY nice country.
Now besides the $20,000 or $15,000 not paid by GMA herself, meaning not the taxpayers, the congressman who paid coming from the poorest province in the country ie so damn rich......what did he do for this fantastic wealth!!!!!!?
I now really hope that 2010 elections will see all those congresmen, administration thrown even if they won't be hanged,LOL, it's worst the rope.... and that a real governance would come back in the country.

Posted by: capi4103 | August 14, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse

It is easy to throw the first stone. I voted for GMA and stand by her as the President of the country. In the global financial crisis, our country has come by with the minimum impact on the economy.

How hypocritical can the masses get? A few years ago people were chanting "Gloria Labandera" sneering at her for having a grandmother who washed clothes for a living. Now it is the other end of the spectrum people cry out at the lavish dinner she had in New York.

Though it is true we have a corrupt government, and that is a very large failing on the President's part to still leave it largely unchecked, but that is her weak point. I still look to the fact she is a brilliant economist and technocrat and is very capable of running our country.

I hope in the next elections we have presidential candidates who can fix these problems, and I look forward to seeing a better country in the next few years.

Posted by: citizen_MD | August 14, 2009 4:02 AM | Report abuse

Brilliant economist? By what measure? By changing the National Income Accounts computation so she can make it appear our economy is expanding? I'm sure you've never been to our neighboring countries, because if you were you can compare what she has accomplished with her boastful "37 quarters of continuous growth", in contrast with all the Asean's not-so-favorable performance yet they are better-educated, have national productivity programs in full effect, well-armed and well-trained military, well-funded science and technology research, improving standards of living, and generally, citizens satisfied with what their gov't has achieved.

In contrast, majority of poor Pinoys nowadays settle for eating restaurant leftovers, wear second-hand ukay-ukay clothing, kids drop out as early as elementary because their brains are drying up due to hunger, exports may soon become a thing of the past as large factories are relocating to China and other Asean countries Filipinos now find themselves working as household helps, clerks and manual laborers in countries that used to envy our economic standing.

Okay, Burma, Cambodia and Laos are still not in that league. But neither are we. Hopefully we don't get left behind by these three anytime soon.

Need I mention that she also redefines unemployment as limited only to those who apply for work but don't get hired? Or that she doubled the number of clasrooms by implementing second and third shifts? Or that she has "exorcised the devil" called foreign debts by simply borrowing local and competing with us businessmen for sources of cheap credit? I'm sure if she considers teaching economics again at Ateneo after retirement, La Salle would be very happy!

No thanks to your "brilliant economist" whose solutions to the country's problems are nothing but mathematical sophistry and all-too-obvious window dressing, foreign investors have totally removed us from their radar screens, the labor intensive industries are fading out the only alternative left for Filipinos is to find work abroad.

The only thing she is capable of is running the country to the ground.

Posted by: Tongueinanew | August 14, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Consider these official pronouncements of Gloria Arroyo calling for austerity on the part of every Filipino, in the light of her ostentatious expenditure on social dining (These statements were circulated on FB as a reaction to GMA's splurges.):

* “I ask our people to spend on the basics first before the luxuries so our children will have enough to eat." Gloria Arroyo

* "This is a moment of sacrifice as it is a moment of truth, when we have to come to terms with the past and present and decide to win back national stability and survival over the long term.I ask our leaders in government and the private sector to find in themselves the moral resources to set the example and take this fight to the finish." Gloria Arroyo

* “In these challenging economic times, we must tighten our belts and live within our means At the national level, we have taken the necessary steps and these measures can be replicated by the provincial and local governments.”Gloria Arroyo

Evidently, her rule is: "Do as I say and not as I do." This woman is totally devoid of conscience.

Aside from amassing vast wealth for herself and her even greedier husband, hers is an administration that has complete disregard for human rights. Under her watch, more than a thousand activists were either murdered or forcibly disappeared- a record worse than Marcos' during the latter's two-decade rule.

Posted by: ChytD | August 16, 2009 4:49 AM | Report abuse

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