Set aside politics, Palace tells critics

MANILA, Philippines–Malacañang refused on Sunday to comment on Sen. Richard Gordon’s statement that President Macapagal-Arroyo was to blame for the fate of two foreign hostages still being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.

Interviewed over government radio, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde repeatedly conveyed the Palace refusal to comment on Gordon’s statements against the President.

“We don’t want to add any statement…What’s important is for us to unite and help each other in securing the safe release of the hostages,” Remonde, speaking in English and Filipino, said.

Remonde stressed that President Arroyo’s directive to the local crisis committee on top of the kidnapping of two remaining International Committee of the Red Cross hostages was clear and that was “to do everything possible to secure the release of the hostages without compromising the sovereignty of our country.”

Remonde underscored the need to leave it to the local crisis committee in handling the hostage problem “because after all, they are the ones who know the situation on the ground and they know the personalities involved in this problem.”

And being the season of the Lent, Remondo also appealed for everyone to set aside politics.

Coming to the defense of the President, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said Gordon’s statement was not true because he stressed that on the contrary, the fate of the hostages were in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf.

“Ang pagdamay o tangkang pagdawit sa ating Pangulo ay walang tutulungan o naaayudaan kundi ang Abu Sayyaf (Any effort to drag the President into the problem will not get anywhere or will not help anybody but the Abu Sayyaf),” Teodoro told dzBB radio.

“Pinalalakas lamang ni Sen. Gordon ang kamay nila (Senator Gordon would only end up strengthening the Abu Sayyaf),” he added.

He said it was clear Gordon was “negotiating” with the Abu Sayyaf.

Christine Avendaño, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Published in: on April 5, 2009 at 3:27 pm  Comments Off on Set aside politics, Palace tells critics  
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