Philippine president names manicurist, gardener to government positions
April 23, 2010
Althea Manasan, National Post
Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has promoted her personal manicurist to an unlikely position. Once in charge of the leader’s cuticles and calluses, Anita Carpon will now, as a newly appointed board member of the nation’s housing fund, be responsible for managing millions of dollars. The Home Development Mutual Fund is the government body that handles housing loans for workers in the public sector. Local media reports that Ms. Carpon will receive a two-year fixed term and a monthly salary of about $2900 — about twice what Ms. Arroyo makes as president.
The promotion wasn’t unprecedented. Earlier, Ms. Arroyo named her gardener as deputy of the Luneta Park Administration, the country’s national park.
Ms. Arroyo’s appointments have drawn sharp criticism. Butch Abad, the campaign manager for leading presidential candidate Benigno Aquino, told the AFP:
“She further deepened the culture of political patronage in this country by putting people who are loyal to her in positions which are delicate without any regard to the qualifications of the people.”
This may not have been the best move to make three weeks before the next national election. Ms. Arroyo, who has held the presidency since 2001, will be stepping down from her post, but has put in a bid to become the next speaker in the House of Representatives. Presidential spokesperson Gary Olivar defended the decision to the AFP:
“The President wants the poorer government employees represented on the board because they are the ones with housing needs,” Olivar said.
He also added that “having a relationship of trust with the president should not count against someone.”
(Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo waves her no-doubt well-groomed hands to supporters after her State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives in Manila’s suburban Quezon City July 27, 2009. Reuters/Cheryl Ravelo)