MANILA, Philippines - President Arroyo can visit the wake of former President Corazon Aquino if she wants, but the Aquino children have made it known that they are not looking forward to it.
Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and television host Kris Aquino-Yap said they were not keen on seeing Mrs. Arroyo at their mother’s wake or funeral which is set on Wednesday.
President Arroyo cut short her US trip reportedly to attend the necrological services for Mrs. Aquino.
But Noynoy said the family would respect President Arroyo’s decision to go to his mother’s wake.
He said that in their younger years, his parents taught him and his siblings to be polite and respectful to elders.
“May kalayaan naman po siyang dumalaw. At tayo po’y nung batang bata pa’y talagang parating inuulit ng ating ama at ng ating ina yung katagang di gawain ng edukadong tao ‘yong pambabastos (She has the freedom to visit. My parents have always inculcated in us since we were very young that as educated individuals, we should not be rude),” Noynoy replied when asked by GMA-7’s Jessica Soho in an interview Saturday night if President Arroyo was welcome at the wake.
Noynoy said he would be polite toward Mrs. Arroyo if she comes to the wake and prays for his mother, but not to the point of being eager to see the President.
“Kung pupunta ho dito, kung gusto ho niyang magdasal, siguro ho eh thank you na rin ho (If she will come here and wants to pray, she’s welcome and well, thank you) Pero yung point naman na I’m looking forward to it, I’m not,” Noynoy admitted.
In separate interviews with reporters, Noynoy also said the family would welcome the President “if she shows up.”
“But an enthusiastic welcome is, I think, a bit too much to ask for,” he said.
He said his lack of enthusiasm had to do with the many unresolved issues of the Arroyo administration.
“(We) have all these issues that remain unresolved, starting with ‘Hello, Garci,’ NBN-ZTE, the fertilizer scam. I don’t want to go through the list, which is quite extensive,” he said.
Mrs. Aquino herself had a falling out with President Arroyo and repeatedly demanded that she step down after her administration had been accused of being involved in a string of scandals involving massive corruption and election fraud.
Until March last year, when Mrs. Aquino withdrew from public life after being diagnosed with colon cancer, she had been active in street protests denouncing widespread government corruption.
Apart from the corruption issues against the Arroyo administration, Noynoy has also been vocal in criticizing President Arroyo over her decision to pardon the killers of his father, former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
Noynoy has criticized Mrs. Arroyo for her double-talk – “consistently” admiring Ninoy’s heroism but at the same time allowing the release of 13 of the 15 convicted murderers of his father.
“Through the years, Mrs. Arroyo has praised my father consistently. How does one reconcile her words of praise for my father as a champion of democracy and a victim of injustice with her action of freeing those who carried out the injustice? Is this the way to show reverence to a person she claims to admire and whom she wanted to emulate on the 25th year of his martyrdom? One day even this wrong will be righted,” Noynoy said in a statement last year when the family marked the 25th death anniversary of Ninoy.
Youngest daughter Kris, in an emotional interview with Boy Abunda in the afternoon show “The Buzz” aired from the La Salle Greenhills gym, said she was hurt when the government ordered the members of her mother’s security detail to return to their mother units, ostensibly “for accounting purposes.” All former presidents are accorded security details.
She said the escorts, Mel and Cris, always accompanied their mother to the hospital when she went for her check-ups, and when she had surgery. They were like family, and Kris revealed that Mrs. Aquino had even asked her eldest daughter Ballsy to make sure to take care of Mel and Cris when she was gone.
“A little respect. Don’t take away the security blanket of my mom. It really hurt me. Pag may impluwensya ka, pahirapan mo kalaban mo (When you’re I power, you make life difficult for your enemies),” she said.
Kris added that she decided to be the one to speak out about this so that her brother Noynoy would not have to bring this up, adding she has no political plans whatsoever.
Kris also said their family decided not to have state honors for their mother, saying all the honors have come from the people, so honors from Malacañang were unnecessary.
She also recounted an incident when a Palace official, who had remained friends with the faily, offered a state funeral for her mother and lying-in-state in Malacañang. The official told them that the Palace faces a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation, since not offering state honors would be bad, and offering it but being rejected would also be bad.
Kris said she was very emotional when she told the official it was not her problem anymore, and her only concern was her mother
JPE no plans yet to go to wake
Meanwhile, a staff member of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said there are no clear plans yet if he will attend Aquino’s wake or funeral.
Enrile was tagged in a number of coup attempts against the Aquino government.
Enrile’s office, however, issued a statement on Mrs. Aquino’s death.
“On behalf of the Philippine Senate and the members of my family, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy and condolences to the bereaved children of former President Corazon Aquino, especially to my colleague, Sen. Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III,” the Senate president said.
Enrile said the demise of President Aquino is not only a loss to her loved ones, but is also an immense loss to the entire nation.
“President Aquino’s contribution to the well-being of the country cannot be measured by mere words, structures and monuments for she has done much, much more. She played a key role in this nation’s struggle for freedom, and she has done noble service in the restoration of democracy in our society,” Enrile said.
“Although, by a twist of fate, we have had differences and disagreements in politics, I have always held President Aquino in high regard and great respect as a worthy leader of our people,” said Enrile, adding his family will continue to pray for her.“As a Filipino, and as a former member of her Cabinet, I believe the nation owes her much, having sacrificed her life in the service of our people. She thus truly deserves the prayers, respect, admiration and appreciation of the Filipino people,” Enrile said.