Arroyo to snub Aquino's first SONA

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 24 2010 03:32 PM | Updated as of Jul 25 2010 07:41 PM

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) - Former President turned Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is skipping President Benigno Aquino III’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

Attorney Jose Miguel Arroyo, husband of the former chief executive, confirmed he and representative Arroyo will be leaving for Hong Kong for a medical check-up on his aneurysm.

“Our itinerary will not permit former PGMA to attend the SONA,” he said.

Mr. Arroyo said he and Mrs. Arroyo will be back in the country on Wednesday. earlier reported that the former President is booked on a 6 p.m Philippine Air Lines (PAL) flight to Hong Kong on Sunday.

The Arroyos' departure comes amid reports that Aquino’s SONA will be heavily critical of her, and will delve into alleged budgetary anomalies of her administration.

Aquino disclosed on Friday that part of his SONA will talk about how the Arroyo administration has allegedly mismanaged the calamity fund.

Aquino said he had been informed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) about the depleted calamity funds.

"May isang district na binuhusan ng calamity fund, samantalang hindi naman pala nabiktima ng Ondoy at Pepeng, pati ng Basyang. Twenty percent ng calamity fund ang napunta sa particular district na yun," said the President.

The DBM earlier came across documents which showed that towns in Rep. Arroyo's second district of Pampanga, like Lubao, Floridablanca, Porac, Guagua, Sta. Rita and Sasmuan, were favored in the calamity fund. (Click here for story.)

However, on Friday, President Aquino refused to reveal which particular legislative district got the bulk of calamity funds, saying "pwede po bang sa Monday na lang."

In a text message sent on Friday, Budget and Management Secretary Butch Abad said the previous administration laid down P2 billion as calamity fund for the year 2010.

"Pero nagastos na ang P1.4 billion at P0.6 billion na lang ang natitira," said Abad.

The amount of P600 million has left the Aquino administration too little elbow room with the calamity fund in case disaster strikes between now until December, Abad said. -- with a report from Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News