Imelda: Fight over Le Cirque bill shameful

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 21 2009 12:01 AM | Updated as of Aug 21 2009 08:07 AM

While Palace chooses to become quiet

MANILA - Former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos on Thursday defended her nephew, Leyte 1st district Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, who is being criticized for paying the nearly P1 million bill for a dinner with President Arroyo and her party in the United States.

"You know, we're talking about a dinner for a President for an anniversary, and in America, it's double, triple the prices. And you cannot put them in the sidewalk for their anniversary. Maawa naman kayo, para 'yon lang! Nakakahiya 'yong pinag-aawayan. Doon sa Amerika, 'di malaki iyon," Marcos told ABS-CBN News' Mario Dumaual in an exclusive interview.

Marcos said that there are other more important issues needed to be discussed aside from the Le Cirque dinner.

Palace officials pointed to Romualdez as the one who shouldered the nearly $20,000 bill during a dinner at Le Cirque in New York, during the visit of the President in the United States.

The dinner drew much flak from critics due to the alleged excessive cost, at a time when the Philippines was mourning the death of former president Corazon Aquino.

“No more statements”

Malacañang meanwhile has apparently chosen to stop issuing further statements on the issue.

Arroyo’s officials had earlier opted to become transparent to assuage critics who have slammed the “lavish” dinners and the “costly” expenses incurred by the president and her entourage during the visit to the US.

On Tuesday, Deputy Executive Secretary Susanna Vargas said the expenses in the US visit were more than P19 million.

“For the visit to the USA, from July 29 to August 5 is P19,198,918.53,” said Bargas in a press conference.

On Wednesday, Vargas however revised the figures and admitted that the US visit cost more than P37 million.

When asked on Thursday, deputy presidential spokesperson Anthony Golez declined to issue further clarification on the issue.

“I think much statements have already been said as a matter of fact there were additional by Secretary Rolando Andaya so we leave it at that,” said Golez at a press conference.

Andaya however failed to give additional information. “First of all, I'm not privy to that,” only said the budget secretary.

Wishing for state funeral for FM

Meanwhile, Marcos said their family, along with the entire nation, is still one with the Aquino family in mourning the passing of former president Cory.

With this, Marcos expressed her long-time desire to have a state funeral for her husband, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who died back in 1991.

The former dictator's remains has been lying in a controlled chamber in a mausoleum in his hometown in Ilocos Norte.

This comes a few weeks after Aquino was buried with full military honors, following her demise last August 1.

"I know what it is to lose a loved one. Especially in our case, we cannot even fulfull our Christian and sacred duty to give Ferdinand an honorable burial. I hope that soon the Lord will bless us to fulfill that sacred duty," Marcos said.

Meanwhile, Marcos also said she will fully support her son, Ilocos Norte 2nd district Rep. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., in case he decides to run for the Senate in 2010.

"Yeah, I told him already I will support him, provided that he will appoint me as nanay of the barangay," Marcos said. With a report from Mario Dumaual and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News