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The ties that bind…Saudi Aramco and GMA

September 5, 2006

GUESS what I found floating around cyberspace? An old column by Philipppine Star’s Max Soliven on President Arroyo and Saudi Aramco/Petron. It explains a lot.

BY THE WAY by MAX SOLIVEN

The GMA campaign wagon gears up
(Dec. 16, 2003)

THE President can’t pretend her flying visit to oil-rich Bahrain via Hong Kong wasn’t political. Aside from meeting with the small Filipino community of 25,000 in Manama, which is the capital of this immensely wealthy but small nation of 650,000 inhabitants, she’s bringing home today a $1-million “grant” from the King of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, for the Muslims of the Philippines.

The government propaganda machine announced the other day that “many” of the 900,000 Filipinos working in next-door Saudi Arabia might come pouring in, as well, to greet the President. For those working in nearby Saudi ARAMCO, just across the King Fahd Causeway, this might be feasible, but most of the Pinoys and Pinays in Saudi work in the Riyadh and Jeddah areas, which are many hours away across the burning desert, or by air. Since she brought along her close friend Nick Alcantara, whom she anointed Chairman of Petron (half-owned by Saudi ARAMCO) immediately after she assumed the Presidency, we can suppose Nick bussed in a hefty delegation from among the thousands of Filipinos – including doctors, nurses, engineers and rig workers – employed in Dhahran, which is in the Eastern Provinces of the vast Saudi expanse, right across from Bahrain.

Perhaps, through Nick and Saudi ARAMCO management, substantial “campaign” . . . er contribution, might have been handed to President GMA on the occasion of her triumphant two-day Bahrain state visit. (She returns here at 8 a.m. today – so it was a flying visit, indeed.)

Saudi ARAMCO, after all, produces virtually all of Saudi Arabia’s petroleum output, more than any other oil company in the world (up to 10 million barrels a day), and in the Kingdom’s biggest employer outside of the government.

It’s possible, aside from the “goodies” President GMA is getting from Bahrain’s Sheik Hamad (also oozing with petro-dollars and petro-euros, since oil was discovered there in 1932), the Saudi ARAMCO “fund” will help swell La Gloria’s “assistance” (or campaign?) kitty.

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