GMA  TO  ATTEND  MASS  FOR  'NINOY'

MANILA, August 22, 2005 (STAR) Despite recent strained relations with former President Corazon Aquino, President Arroyo will visit the tomb of Aquino’s assassinated husband, former senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City today to commemorate his 22nd death anniversary.

A Malacañang official, who asked not to be named, said it might be possible for the President to attend the Mass for the slain hero since this would not require an invitation from the family.

The official said the President also would not mind being there with Mrs. Aquino as "Ninoy is an authentic hero."

"There will only be one celebration. That is a public place and the late Senator Aquino is a national hero, so there’s nothing wrong if the President goes there," the source said.

"It has been a tradition for her," the official said, adding that Mrs. Arroyo has been going there every year, so if she doesn’t now, "there might even be more questions."

The President and Mrs. Aquino had a falling out last month when the latter called for her resignation amid allegations of cheating in the May 2004 election and receiving payoffs from illegal gambling.

The source pointed out the Palace did not want to tread on anyone’s feelings, but the President still wants to pay tribute to "Ninoy."

Less-than-warm relations between Mrs. Arroyo and Mrs. Aquino at this time are beside the point, the source added.

Malacañang also called on Filipinos yesterday to honor the memory of the late opposition senator by emulating his "selflessness, love for country and heroism."

"Twenty-two years after his martyrdom, Ninoy Aquino continues to be a model of selflessness, love for country and heroism. We should not only remember him and thank him for his sacrifices for our country, but honor his memory by emulating him," Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.

Bunye urged the people "to put our country before our personal interests," stressing that "even in small ways, we can all make a difference."

Bunye and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, meanwhile, said this Monday might also be declared a holiday as a way to honor the late hero.

Ermita said the President could declare Aug. 22 a holiday since Section 9, Rule 4 of the Omnibus Rules of the Labor Code provides that if "a regular holiday falls on a Sunday, the following day shall be considered a special holiday."

Aquino, who fought against the Marcos dictatorship, was assassinated on Aug. 21, 1983 upon his return in Manila from self-exile in the United States. The Manila International Airport where he was slain was subsequently renamed Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

His death eventually led to the ouster and exile of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in February 1986.

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) will hold simple ceremonies today in observance of Aquino’s death.

MIAA general manager Alfonso Cusi will join Aquino’s brother and sister, former senators Agapito "Butz" Aquino and Tessie Aquino-Oreta as well as other relatives and friends in a Mass to be held at 9 a.m. at the ramp of NAIA Terminal 1, Bay 11 — the exact spot where the hero was shot dead in the early afternoon of Aug. 21, 1983.

After the Mass, the Gigi Velarde-David Dance Troupe will perform interpretative dances based on Aquino’s three favorite poems, which he himself wrote.

Expected to attend the ceremonies are members of the August Twenty One Movement (ATOM) such as former senator Heherson Alverez and his wife Cecille Guidote-Alvarez and former MIAA general manager Reli German.

Also expected to join are old-timers from the media who were present on that fateful day, including Recto Mercene who, amid the confusion, photographed Aquino after he was shot and lay dead on the tarmac, face down. — With Rainier Allan Ronda

VIEW FROM THE PALACE - Ignacio Bunye (Office of Press Secretary, Malacanang)

The drive for fundamental political reforms through charter change has moved to high gear with the creation last Friday of the Consultative Commission. The Constitutional Commission will be responsible for the conduct of grassroots consultations to gather important and relevant inputs, and broaden popular participation in the debate.

Nominations for the 50-person commission are now being accepted by Malacanan until August 31.

Nominations may be delivered or mailed to the Office of the Presidential Management Staff, attention: PMS Deputy Head, Undersecretary Charito Eligir, 10th Floor, PMS Building, Arlegui Street, Malacanan Complex or may be emailed to concom@pms.gov.ph.

All nominations must be in writing and must be accompanied by the following supporting documents: 1) curriculum vitae of the nominee 2) an indication of whether the nomination is for a national, regional or sectoral representative 3) an endorsement by the nominating group or individual 4) a certification by the nominee that he/she will accept appointment to the commission and 5) other materials that may aid the appointing authority.

The prospective nominee must be 1) a citizen of the Philippines 2) a qualified voter and 3) of recognized probity, competence, honesty and patriotism.

Once formally convened on September 15, the Consultative Commission will have until the end of December to conduct public hearings and to submit to the President its report and proposed revisions of the 1987 constitution for proper transmittal to Congress.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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