AILING  GMA  SKIPS  TEAM  UNITY  RALLY  IN  CEBU

MANILA, MAY 11, 2007 (STAR) By Paolo Romero - Heat exhaustion and diarrhea forced President Arroyo on Wednesday to cancel some of her appointments, including the miting de avance of Team Unity senatorial candidates in Cebu.

A ranking Palace official said Mrs. Arroyo, who was resting in Malacañang as of press time, might limit her public engagements today and let Vice President Noli de Castro take her place in some of her appointments.

After inaugurating at high noon two multi-billion peso flagship projects in Jagna town in Bohol on Wednesday, Mrs. Arroyo complained of fatigue and slight dizziness, said Presidential Management Staff chief Secretary Cerge Remonde, who accompanied her on her visit to the two provinces.

The two projects were the P60.4-million Jagna Port Expansion Project and the P1.8-billion Bohol Circumferential Road Improvement Project (BCRIP) Phase 2.

"The President stayed too long under the sun and there were so many people swarming around her (in Jagna) and it was high noon. So by the time we were in the (presidential) helicopter, she complained that she didn’t feel well,’ Remonde said.

When they reached Cebu at around 1:30 p.m., she visited a call center of Convergys and rested for a while in the Malacañang sa Sugbo and later complained of diarrhea. He said the extreme heat might have caused her illness.

At 7 p.m., Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña called up Mrs. Arroyo and asked about her condition, which apparently did not yet improve.

Osmeña suggested that she skip the Team Unity’s miting de avance so that she could rest some more.

The miting de avance turned into a parade of stars.

Local officials led by Mayor Osmeña organized a torch parade where residents walked towards Fuente Osmeña. The crowd was estimated to number around 15,000 supporters.

Senatorial candidate Sultan Jamalul Kiram was also absent from the rally, apparently indisposed, and was represented by his wife Celia, who accompanied him in campaign sorties in Panabo City and Davao City last Tuesday.

Presidential Security Group chief Brig. Gen. Romeo Prestoza said the senatorial candidates called the President up and wished her well. He said he saw the President drinking a Gatorade.

He said she was advised by her PSG doctors to slow down a bit to enable her to recover.

Remonde, however, maintained that while Mrs. Arroyo skipped the rally, she held several short unscheduled meetings with some Cebu businessmen.

Mrs. Arroyo flew back to Manila yesterday at around 10 a.m. and proceeded to the Palace where she received freed domestic helper Sarah Dematera, who was recently spared the death penalty in Saudi Arabia upon the President’s intercession.

The President was seen with a small bandage on her arm, which Press Undersecretary Isabel De Leon said was to cover the needle mark from an intravenous line for dextrose.

This was followed by an interview with editors of the London-based Financial Times on trade and regional issues.

Last year, Mrs. Arroyo was twice rushed to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City. The first time was in June when she complained of abdominal pains, and was again brought to the same hospital a few weeks later due to flu. – with Delon Porcalla


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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