, July 19, 2005
(STAR) By Marichu Villanueva - President Arroyo apologized for another "lapse in judgment," this time on the part of one of her Cabinet officials who ridiculed actress Kris Aquino.

The President personally apologized Sunday night to Kris, who had campaigned for her during the runup to the presidential polls last year, for the harsh words hurled her way by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.

Kris is the youngest child of former President Corazon Aquino, who has joined calls for Mrs. Arroyo to resign.

Gonzalez, in a number of press conferences, said Aquino should not give such unsolicited advice to the President when even Kris does not listen to her.

Kris aired her objection to Gonzalez’s statement in "The Buzz," a talk show she co-hosts every Sunday on ABS-CBN.

"After ‘The Buzz,’ President Arroyo called me to personally apologize. I’ll always have the highest respect for the presidency and I appreciate her acts of humility," Kris told STAR entertainment editor Ricky Lo. (See "Fanfare" for the details of his one-on-one interview with Kris).

The actress talked about Mrs. Arroyo’s apology in an interview aired over radio station dzMM yesterday.

Kris said she talked with Gina de Venecia, whom she fondly calls "Manay Gina," to relay her sentiments regarding Gonzalez’s attacks on her and her mother. It was Manay Gina who recruited her to campaign for Mrs. Arroyo in last year’s elections.

"I’m very close to Manay Gina. So I told her, please tell the President that I gave my word I will not give any comments on this political issue," Kris said.

After her talk show, Kris went to her mother’s house on Times street in Quezon City. The last thing she expected was a call from the President.

"The numbers appeared from a pre-paid (SIM)," Kris said. "So I asked Bambi, my secretary, to answer the phone."

When Bambi told her that Mrs. Arroyo would like to talk to her, Kris said she immediately grabbed the phone.

"The first thing she said is ‘Kris, I’m so sorry. I am very, very sorry about everything that has happened,’" she quoted Mrs. Arroyo.

Kris replied that "it’s not a problem with me anymore, nailabas ko po ang sama ng loob ko (I just had to say how hurt I was)."

The President, according to Kris, said she has reprimanded Gonzalez because "hindi naman tama ito talaga (it was really not right)."

During their telephone conversation, Kris said the President graciously asked her what she could do to "repair the situation."

"I told her the very fact that you’ve called me is more than enough for me," she told Mrs. Arroyo.

"I really just got hurt because I really kept my word. Wala naman talaga kayong maririnig sa akin dahil kasama ninyo ako noong 2004 (elections). Bakit naman ako magsasalita ngayon (You will not hear anything from me because we were together in 2004. So why should I speak now)?" Kris said.

She said the President told her she was "appreciative" of her tact, and reiterated her offer: "If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know."

"I’m sorry about this again and you know, hindi ko gusto ang nangyaring ito (I don’t like what happened)," Kris quoted Mrs. Arroyo’s parting words to her.

When her mother learned who was on the other end of the line, Kris said her mother ribbed her about it.

"Sabi ng Mommy ko, ‘Iba ka rin! Tinatawagan ka ng Presidente (You’re somebody. It’s the President calling you up),’" she quoted her mother.

Aquino, according to Kris, then said, "Kawawa naman siya. Yung mga sinasabi ng nakapaligid sa kanya, siya pa ang magso-sorry. Siya ang nag-aayos at nag-aareglo (It’s a pity that she has to apologize for the things said by the people around her. She has to be the one who smoothes everything out)."

In the same radio interview, Kris thanked deposed President Joseph Estrada for taking up the cudgels for her mother and criticizing Gonzalez for attacking Mrs. Aquino’s personal life instead of dwelling on their differing political views.

Though she did not expect support from Estrada, Kris noted that he and her mother confined their criticisms to politics and "never made personal attacks."

Estrada had called up The STAR last Saturday from his rest house in Tanay to air his views on Gonzalez’s attack on Aquino.

In an interview on ABS-CBN’s "TV Patrol" news program, Kris revealed that Gonzalez had approached her mother for a "favor" related to his long-stalled confirmation at the Commission on Appointments, which is chaired by Senate President Franklin Drilon.

Drilon is very close to Aquino since he was her former executive secretary. He earlier called for Mrs. Arroyo to step down.

Kris said Gonzalez and Drilon are arch-enemies, and this is the reason why Gonzalez sought her mother’s help. She noted that her mother kept this secret even when Gonzalez attacked her.

Meanwhile, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye was mum on the issue and said it would be better for Gonzalez to answer Kris’ tirades against him. He said he had not talked to Gonzalez on this matter.

Earlier, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said he asked Cabinet officials not to add fuel to fire and simply counter the opposition’s negativism by highlighting the government’s achievements and what they are doing to address the concerns of the people.

Ermita said it would not help the country if government officials engage in a word war with Mrs. Arroyo’s critics. — With Aurea Calica

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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