CHIEF OF STAFF QUITS OVER REMARKS "MADE IN JEST"
Malacanang, March 22, 2000 - President Joseph Estrada accepted Wednesday the irrevocable resignation of Aprodicio Laquian as his Chief of Staff, who voluntarily quit Tuesday night after making statements which he acknowledged "inadvertently caused harm" to the President and the administration.
"Sa ngayon wala na munang Chief of Staff. Yan created ko lamang na temporary position lamang yan (For now there will be no chief of staff. It was a temporary position)," the President said in a radio interview.
The Chief Executive said the Office of the Executive Secretary and the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) will continue to coordinate and manage the functions of the Executive Department.
According to Mr. Estrada, Laquian himself realized that the statements which he claimed in his resignation letter "were made in jest" have "caused unintended damage."
"Kusang loob na nag-resign siya. Tinanggap ko naman sapagkat hindi lumalabas na parang biro yong kanya (He resigned voluntarily. I accepted it because his statements did not appear to have been made in jest as he claimed)," the President said in his weekly radio program Itawag Mo Kay Erap over dzRH.
Reminded that Laquian claims his statements were made in jest, Estrada retorted: 'I am not laughing."
In another radio interview, Mr. Estrada said Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Ramon Cardenas and Assistant Secretary Crispin Remulla, head of the PMS’ legal department, will help Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora coordinate the affairs of the Office of the President.
For his part, Zamora said in a radio interview that Laquian "has done a very honorable thing" by tendering his resignation.
Laquian, in his resignation letter dated March 21, 2000, told the President that the disputed statements "were said in jest and with tongue in cheek," and that "I used exaggeration and hyperbole to try and make a point."
"Unfortunately, my statements were used out of context and were not received in the same manner as I had intended for them to be. I deeply regret the unintended damage this has caused you," he added.
Laquian also assured the President he continues "to believe that you are sincere in your intention and is in a unique position to be of tremendous service to our people."
He said he "regrets" that he could no longer "be part of this worthwhile effort" after making baseless statements that put the administration in a bad light.
Philippine Headline News Online will make a separate, more detailed report on Laquian, including a transcript of his remarks at a luncheon forum at the Century Park Hotel hosted by the Manila Overseas Press Club.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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