MANILA - President Arroyo on Monday apologized to the family of former President Corazon Aquino 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."
Remonde said the President has ordered the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police to extend all assistance to the Aquino family for the wake and burial of the country's first woman president.
Asked if Mrs. Arroyo will still attend Aquino's wake, he said: "The President will do what she needs to do." He also appealed to the people in Manila not to put any political color to her action.
Mrs. Arroyo attended Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City Sunday along with first gentleman, Jose Miguel Arroyo, their son, Dato, and members of her Cabinet.
After the Mass, Fr. Timothy Dolan approached Mrs. Arroyo and expressed his condolences over the death of Mrs. Aquino. The President is set to fly to San Francisco on Monday before going back to Manila in time for Aquino's funeral on August 5.
Aquino's only son, Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, earlier said he is not keen on seeing Mrs. Arroyo at his mother's wake or funeral. He added, however, that he will respect the President if she chooses to go.
Aquino's youngest daughter, Kris, also said differences with the Arroyo administration led them to refuse a state funeral for the former leader.
In an interview on showbiz talk show The Buzz on Sunday, Kris said an emissary from Malacañang approached their family 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.
(Read transcript of Kris' interview here: Cory's daughter recalls last days with mother in The Buzz interview)
"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.
"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.
During that conversation with the unnamed official, Kris said she also brought up an incident back in July when she thought the government was recallling her mother's security detail.
The security detail is provided by the Presidential Security Group (PSG) to former presidents. Cory's security details, Kris said, were named Mel and Chris.
"When I brought it up, nasabi ko - emotional ako noong time na 'yon, [sinabi ko] gusto niyo na bigyan ang mom ngayon [ng honors] eh... ngayon na may sakit [siya] iyong due her as [fomer] president gusto niyo bawiin?" Kris recalled.
She explained that she was emotional at that time, and it was what she felt "as a daughter."
"I'm trying [to explain] so that Noy won't have to speak on this," saying she is not running for any political office and will not run in the near future, to remove any taint of politics.
"It really hurt me (the alleged recall of the security detail). It hurt me because I understand politics, and I understand na kapag may implwensiya ka pahihirapan mo 'yong kalaban mo... pero 'wag naman 'yong mga maliliit. 'Wag naman 'yong 2 na talagang nagmahal sa mom," she said, referring to the 2 security details assigned to the former president.
She then said that the matter has been explained to her already - the guards were not being recalled, but were rather being called for "accounting" - and that it is already resolved.
"Gusto ko lang ibahagi, on a personal basis, why we made the decisions we made," she said.
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. The former president also threw her support for NBN-ZTE witness Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada who implicated former Comelec chair Benjamin Abalos and First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo in the anomalous national broadband network deal with China’s ZTE Corporation. - based on a report from Ging Reyes, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
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