Manila, March 22, 2003 -- Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes is in hot
water  which may just prove to be boiling hot  from both with the senators
and a political party president and Metro Manila mayor.

For calling senators "assholes" reportedly during a luncheon he hosted for
defense reporters with foreign correspondents present, the Defense chief
referred to the members of the upper chamber as a bunch of "assholes."

At the same time, Makati City mayor and PDP president Jejomar Binay
yesterday pressed for a full disclosure of the payor of the full-page
newspaper advertisements discrediting senators and scoring them for putting
Reyes on the Senate hot seat during the budget deliberations with the
Senate of the whole.

Opposition Sen. Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr., against whom the Reyes ad was
directed, commenting on Reyes "intemperate" remark, said Reyes is merely
adding to his problems in the Senate.

"We are not through with him," Pimentel said, pointing out that "perhaps
Reyes has forgotten that there is an ongoing probe on him (on the attack in
Buliok Complex in Mindanao, which Reyes reportedly ordered on his own),"
adding Reyes will be made to explain before the Senate "why he (Reyes)
wants to remain an asshole (in the Department of National Defense)."

Minority floor leader Sen. Vicente Sotto III, commenting on Reyes' name
calling of senators, said: "The Defense secretary has just declared war
against the Senate," adding it was unfortunate that the Senate got hold of
the report just yesterday, after the body passed the defense budget."

Sotto said, "We at the Senate accord a Cabinet secretary with the respect
due a public official of his stature. He should accord us the same respect."

At a luncheon hosted by Reyes for the journalists, a foreign correspondent
reportedly asked Reyes if he was running for the Senate, to which Reyes
reportedly replied: "Senators are assholes. Do you want me to be an asshole?"

Reyes is said to be eyeing the presidency, as Mrs. Arroyo has stated
publicly that she is no longer seeking the presidency in 2004. But Reyes is
also said to be willing to slide to No. 2 position in the event Mrs. Arroyo
changes her mind and runs for the presidency.
The Chief Executive has announced publicly that she is going to support her
Defense chief's candidacy, in whatever position he seeks.

Opposition Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, who is reportedly also gunning for
the presidency in 2004, merely remarked that, as "Angie Reyes is worse than
any senator of the realm, no word can possibly describe him (Reyes)."

Sen. John Osmeņa, for his part, said Reyes was "sourgraping since he can't
win (a Senate seat) anyway," broadly hinting that if Reyes can't get
elected as a senator, his chances to be elected president or vice president
are even dimmer.

But Binay is not letting Reyes off the hook, on the Defense chief's paid
advertisements slamming the senators.

He wants to know who paid for the full-page print ads discrediting senators
and other political personalities critical of the Reyes' handling of the
recent military action against Moslem rebels in Mindanao?

Binay yesterday pressed for a full disclosure of the identities of the
authors of a full-page paid advertisement assailing PDP-Laban chairman and
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

"We need to know if public funds were used to pay for their publication,"
Binay said, adding he found it alarming that unnamed persons can use the
name of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to defend a Cabinet secretary
from legitimate criticisms.

The identities of the authors of the ads should be disclosed, Binay said.
"We also need to know if public funds were used to pay for the ad, which
clearly used the name of the Armed Forces to defend the action of one
man  Secretary Reyes."

Binay said the full-page ads allegedly paid by members of the AFP can be
seen as thinly veiled threat against critics of Reyes.

The city mayor said there is an indication that the ads may have been paid
for by the AFP through unnamed private organization.

"If personal money was used, then what, or who, gave the authors the
authority to use the name of the Armed Forces to defend Secretary Reyes? If
public funds were used, then the authors have clearly misused government
resources," he said. (Ben Gines Jr., Tribune)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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