MANILA - In the wake of the death of former President Corazon Aquino last Saturday, the Aquino family has reacted differently to expressions of condolence from two presidential families.
One family, the Marcoses, received heartfelt thanks from the Aquinos. The irony is that the Marcoses were removed from Malacañang when Aquino rose to power in 1986.
On the other hand, President Arroyo, the incumbent Chief Executive, has been rebuffed by the Aquinos.
Former First Lady Imelda Marcos, whose husband Ferdinand was toppled by Aquino in the 1986 People Power revolt, released a statement Saturday that "Filipinos should unite and pray for Cory."
Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. also issued a similar call to support the Aquino family in their time of need.
"Ang buong pamilyang Marcos ay nakikiisa sa pagluluksa ng sambayanang Pilipino sa pagpanaw ni dating Pangulong Corazon Aquino (The Marcos family joins Filipinos in mourning former President Corazon Aquino's death)," he said in a statement.
Marcos said his family knows the pain the Aquino family is going through with the death of the "People Power" icon. "Muli, ang aming pakikiramay at pakikiisa sa pamilyang Aquino (Again, our condolences and support for the Aquino family)," the congressman said.
Aquino's youngest daughter, Kris, on Sunday thanked the Marcos family for offering prayers for her mother.
“I never thought that the time would come but I say thank you to the Marcoses for really praying for mom. I felt the sincerity,” said Kris on the ABS-CBN entertainment show “The Buzz."
During her last conversation with her mother, Kris said the former leader had already forgiven her political enemies. Likewise, the actress said her mother had also asked for their forgiveness.
“During my last conversation, I asked mom, sabi ko, ‘Mom, when I addressed the people, gusto mo ba sabihin ko you want everybody at peace?’ She said, ‘yes,’” Kris said.
Kris' older brother, Noynoy, said he appreciated the Marcos family's decision to reach out to them. He said the Ilocos Norte congressman's statement was sincere and that the Aquino family would welcome the Marcoses if they come to Cory's wake.
Imelda said Aquino's death could pave the way for a reconciliation between the Marcoses and the Aquinos. "I can feel the pain, the loss of a loved one, so I am in prayer. If these two families reconciled, there will be a miracle for the Philippines," Imelda said on local television.
The Marcoses are alleged to have plundered the government coffers of up to $10 billion from the national treasury.
In an interview with Agence France-Presse when she turned 80 last month, Marcos said she bore no anger towards Aquino, and offered prayers for her swift recovery.
Arroyo gets the cold shoulder
On the other hand, President Arroyo has received the cold shoulder treatment from the Aquino family especially after the revelation that the Chief Executive gave a half-hearted attempt to give state honors to the former president.
Mrs. Arroyo, who was in the United States when Cory died, officially declared a 10-day mourning period for the former head of state. She also designated August 5, Aquino's funeral, as a special non-working holiday and has cut short her trip allegedly to visit Aquino's wake.
Her efforts, however, have been rebuffed by some members of the Aquino family. Mrs. Arroyo and Aquino have had a falling out in the past couple of years after Aquino urged Arroyo to resign over allegations that she cheated in the 2004 presidential election.
Kris earlier said a Malacañang emissary approached them and offered a state funeral for the former president. Kris said the emissary told them that Malacañang was in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation wherein any move they make in offering a state funeral to Aquino could be misinterpreted.
"I said, 'I'm speaking on behalf of everybody. Malacañang doesn't have to say [na] bigyan ng honor ang Mom ko, dahil iyong honor nanggagaling sa bayan natin,'" Kris said. (Read: Nation will honor Cory - daughter )
"It's not that we did not allow. We said: ‘Don't offer na lang, para walang gulo.’ Ayaw namin ng gulo," she later added.
Kris said she also brought up an incident back in July when she thought the government was recallling her mother's two security guards. The security detail is provided by the Presidential Security Group (PSG) to former presidents.
"It hurt me because I understand politics, and I understand that if you have influence, you inconvenience your enemies...It's my mom's right to have security. We just wanted the respect due my mom, a former President. Don't take away my mom's security blanket," she said.
President Arroyo apologized to the Aquino family for the pullout of Aquino's security detail before her death.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde told reporters in the US that they were shocked to hear about the pullout of Aquino's security detail. He apologized to the Aquino family for their anguish over the incident and said the move was not intentional.
He said the military has initially admitted that the pullout was a "bureaucratic slip-up."
Armed Forces' Chief of Staff Gen. Victor Ibrado, meanwhile, denied that two security personnel assigned to Aquino had been pulled out. He said the two's mother unit had been dissolved and that it is now the Philippine National Police (PNP) that provides security to former and current government officials.
Noynoy said however that the "bureaucratic slip-up" was a convenient excuse for Malacañang to inconvenience his mother. He said he does not blame the military since the soldiers will not do anything without permission from the President.
"Ako po'y napapag-isip lang, ang holding unit po nila ay PSG at tinawag na ang [Camp] Crame [PNP headquarters]. At ang Crame ay di gagawa ng kilos na tungkol sa PSG na wala sa kapahintulutan po nila. At ang kapahintuluitan ng PSG ay nandoon na po ang Malacañang," said the senator in an interview outside the Manila Cathedral monday afternoon.
He also reiterated that he is not looking forward to being contacted by Malacañang although he will be civil to President Arroyo if she decides to attend her mother's wake.
He also had one parting shot against the Arroyo administration. Asked if he would consider running for president in 2010, he quipped: "Isa sa mga unang naalalala ko sabi ng Tatay ko: 'Kawawa naman ang papalit kay Ginoong Marcos, masuwerte kasi ang ipagtabuyan ng tao sa Malacañang sa dami ng problemang iiwan ni Marcos.' Tapos si Ginang Arroyo, pasensya na po, pero kung titingnan natin ang dami pong ginagaya sa kay Ginoong Marcos. O di ba parang part 2 na naman na iba ang gagawa ng kasalanan at papel namin ang magsasaayos ng lahat noon. Medyo di naman ako masokista," said the senator.
Kris meanwhile echoed her brother's attitude on Mrs. Arroyo.
When she was asked at the Manila Cathedral Monday afternoon by Mario Duamaual, ABS-CBN correpondent, if President Arroyo would be welcome at the wake, Kris took several moments before answering: "That's a very difficult question, I prefer not to answer."
When sought however for an additional comment, Kris said: "Huwag mo na akong pilitin sumagot Mario, baka mayroon pa kong masabing hindi maganda. Alam mo naman, I've said this many times na kung nararamdaman namin na sincere iyong pakikiramay at iyong pagiging respeto, why not di ba?"