President on top of things from Zamboanga—Coloma
MANILA, Philippines—Despite being holed up in Zamboanga City, President Benigno Aquino III is on top of things in the government and performing his duties as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief, according to Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications and Operations Office.
Coloma said the President has been “monitoring all these developments.”
“The President is in constant touch with his Cabinet officials and performing his duties even if he’s actively monitoring and overseeing the operations [in Zamboanga City],” Coloma told reporters at the House of Representatives, which held plenary hearings on the PCOO budget.
He said the President’s decision on when to leave Zamboanga would depend on developments there.
Coloma made the statements a day after Malacañang said it was difficult to get the President’s position on issues of the day, citing the lack of newspapers in Zamboanga City.
The President’s spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, earlier noted that there had been no planes flying to the city because of the fighting, so newspapers were not reaching the area. Nobody from the Palace elaborated on the fact that news could also be gleaned from TV or online news sites.
Coloma said the Palace could not provide specific details of the President’s stay in Zamboanga City since he was in a conflict zone.
He also refused to elaborate when asked about the President’s supposed dissatisfaction with Vice President Jejomar Binay’s failed attempt to get a ceasefire by talking to Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari.
“The focus here is securing peace and order. The focus here is to protect the safety of citizens. The focus here is the cooperation of the administration and civil society to help the government. These are all to bring back order in Zamboanga City,” he said.
Vice President Jejomar Binay earlier said he had talked with Misuari and that the latter had agreed to a ceasefire. But the ceasefire never materialized, with the government and the MNLF rejecting conditions each side set.
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