13 August 2009

Eat to Your Heart's Content

Le Cirque
As quickly as it was made public, Malacañang officials were also quick to douse water into the fiery controversy. They branded reports that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her party spent US$ 20,000 for dinner in an upscale New York restaurant during her working visit in the US as 'grossly exaggerated' and 'fruits of a poisoned tree'.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, who was among the entourage, informed the media that the dinner at the famous Le Cirque restaurant was sponsored by Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez. Can anybody see a pattern here? Whenever the President or her family are being implicated to something illegal and immoral, there is always somebody willing to take the fall. Remember the 'Jose Pidal' controversy?

Now, before the good secretary starts blabbering about something that will only further embarrass his boss, why not tell everyone first how much was the actual bill. The answer to that could be an eternity of waiting because he can't or he won't. He could have even feigned ignorance when he admitted to the media that he is unaware about how much they really paid. So, if he is not privy to the exact cost, how can he say that the reports were 'grossly exaggerated'.

According to Sec. Remonde, they went to the restaurant for "a simple, late, late night dinner" because they came in late from Washington after the meeting between Pres. Arroyo and President Barrack Obama at the White House. However, looking at the picture above there seems to be nothing simple about the restaurant that the arrogant, preening, self-regarding and prima donnas went to.

Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, one of the 28 lawmakers who accompanied the President, said the price tag for the dinner was 'reasonable'. It was a nonsensical statement at a time when the country is facing near-recession levels. To prove this, let us examine what they ordered as reported by the New York Post's gossip section:
  • 11 bottles of Krug champagne at US$ 550 each
  • Osetra caviar at US$ 1,400 per five ounces
  • 'Chef's Tasting Menu' of wine paired with a dish at US$ 4,500 for 25 orders
  • a three-course 'Chef's Seasonal Menu' at US$ 1,450 for 25 orders
  • appetizers that included lobster salad, burgundy escargot and soft shell crab tempura
Hmmm ... can anybody tell this writer what is 'reasonable' in this list? Maybe in their dreams it was just a reasonable meal compared to what mere mortals in the Philippines can afford. Did the party of self-indulgent, incompetent and irrelevant lawmakers and their Malacañang sponsors ever stop just for a minute and think about how many poor Filipinos can be given a small start-up capital or how many malnourished children in the streets can be fed with that amount?

At the prevailing conversion rates, US$ 20,000 is approximately PhP 956,603.15. That's nearly PhP 32,000 per head for 30 people and that is only for one meal!

Malacañang said that they only occupied two tables and ordered set menu, but can't even give details. They might have thought that Filipinos are fools that can be easily manipulated into thinking that two tables do not have the capacity to order such an atrocious amount. What a bunch of uninspiring and banal non-entities. No wonder the country cannot build on what Pres. Cory Aquino and the People Power has started.

Using Rep. Romualdez as the 'fall guy' was a poor excuse. How can they assure the public that the self-important lawmaker did not use public funds? Have they audited his expenditures? How long until the election when everyone can get rid of this self-serving and greedy losers?