MANILA, Philippines–Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr defended President Aquino’s presence at the Presidential Security
Group’s Christmas party on Sunday night, as northern Mindanao was struggling in the aftermath of tropical storm “Sendong.”
“Yes, it’s true the President was there, but let us place it in the proper context. It was a celebration by the PSG, by soldiers whose role is to protect the life of the President 365 days a year…It was to give them a bit of morale and welfare,” Coloma pointed out, in Filipino.
Coloma made the statement at the Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel media forum on Monday morning.
“It was a simple Christmas celebration of soldiers. It was not the President who was celebrating, it was just his expression of solidarity and
thanks,” Coloma said.
Coloma appealed to the public, particularly the outraged online social networks, to give the President a break. “It was maybe just two hours or an hour of his time. He only listened to two or three songs performed by Valerie [Concepcion]. Baka pwede naman pagbigyan ang pangulo (I hope we can give the President a break),” Coloma said.
On the party’s propriety, Coloma said that the activity had been scheduled way before “Sendong” came into the picture. “They didn’t know there would be a disaster on the same weekend,” he said.
The online furor started with actress Valerie Concepcion tweeting on Sunday night: “Done w/ work…Tnx for having me..:) It was nice to see Pres. P-Noy laughing at my jokes & enjoying my performance…#Malacanang #PSGNight,” thereby confirming Mr Aquino’s whereabouts in the midst of rescue and relief operations for “Sendong” victims.
Tweets and statuses accused the President of “partying” while hundreds have died from a natural disaster.
But Coloma pointed out that even within the online social networks, there are those who have come to Mr Aquino’s and the PSG party’s defense.
“A lot of our countrymen have also said we can let the activity pass…The PSG has a right to observe Christmas. It’s an exaggeration to insinuate malice in the party. It was for the welfare of the soldiers,” Coloma said, in Filipino.