PRESS UNDERSECRETARY FIRED FOR URINATING IN GMA PLANE?

MALACANANG, OCTOBER 22, 2003  (STAR) By Mayen Jaymalin  - A Malacańang official learned too late that too much drinking is not only hazardous to health but also for one’s career.

President Arroyo reportedly ordered the "demotion" of Press Undersecretary Heraclio "Rocky" Nazareno over reports he allegedly indecently urinated during their flight home from Paris, France on a working visit last month.

Nazareno was reportedly too drunk at the time when he relieved himself near the plane’s emergency exit, which he apparently thought was the lavatory.

Other government officials who were traveling with him tried to stop Nazareno but it was already too late.

Mrs. Arroyo, who was on the other side of the plane, learned of the incident and reportedly got peeved with Nazareno’s misbehavior.

Press Undersecretary Milton Alingod confirmed that the incident occurred during the President’s flight home to Manila after a working tour which included a speaking engagement before the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, before the Unesco in Paris and a visit to Pope John Paul II at the Vatican last September.

Alingod, however, denied Mrs. Arroyo imposed any disciplinary action against Nazareno.

He said Nazareno went on official leave following the incident and reported back to work where he was even assigned to map out plans and supervise media coverage of the eight-hour state visit of US President George W. Bush last Saturday.

In a text message he sent to media friends yesterday, Nazareno apologized for his behavior.

"I deeply apologize about all the shattered expectations. How I wish I could deny it. But it was one moment of weakness I am really sorry about," he said.

"The problem is the situation went beyond everybody’s control. I am really sorry," said Nazareno, who is celebrating his birthday today.

Alingod noted that presidential adviser for political affairs Hernani Braganza requested to the President that Nazareno be transferred to his office.

Nazareno’s transfer, observers said, is considered a demotion since his position as press undersecretary is directly under the Office of the President.

As of this time, Alingod said, Mrs. Arroyo has yet to act on the "requested transfer" of Nazareno.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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