MANILA, April 1, 2004
President Arroyo accepted the public apology of popular comedian Dolphy for dishing out jokes about her in a political rally of opposition presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. in Cebu last Saturday.

Mrs. Arroyo said the incident was nothing but a "tactical issue" and renewed her challenge to the opposition to present more substantive issues instead of personal attacks.

Dolphy, Rodolfo Quizon in real life and a close friend of Poe, aired his apology through the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., which airs his weekly sitcom "Home Along Da Airport."

Dolphy’s digs against the President came after reports that his show was supposedly being axed by the network upon the behest of the Palace in exchange for the government’s bailout of another Lopez-owned firm, Maynilad Water Services Inc.

Mrs. Arroyo has kept quiet about Dolphy’s jokes and broke her silence only after the comedian aired the apology.

"Yes, I accept (the apology). That’s a tactical issue," she told reporters. "But it does not remove the fact that the opposition has no platform even for the movie industry."

Mrs. Arroyo insisted that she has supported the local entertainment industry much more than her predecessor, deposed President Joseph Estrada, a bosom buddy of Poe.

In her kick-off campaign rally in Laguna last January, the President ceremonially signed into law the Optical Media Act of 2004, which heavily penalized film piracy.

The President was interviewed during the "asalto" on Tuesday night given by Mrs. Gina de Venecia, wife of Speaker Jose de Venecia, at their residence in Dasmariñas Village in Makati City.

The "asalto" was for the President’s birthday on April 5.

Also in attendance were TV and movie personalities known to be staunch supporters of the President such as superstar Nora Aunor, Kris Aquino and Assunta de Rossi, whose husband Rep. Jules Ledesma is a partymate of Mrs. Arroyo at Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats. — Marichu Villanueva

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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