, NOVEMBER 28, 2007 (STAR) THE FREEMAN - Press Undersecretary Jose Capadocia yesterday clarified that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s hosting of a Christmas party for the local media of Cebu is “purely social.”

Capadocia said the event should not be given meaning because “the President just want to be with the media during the Holidays.”

President Arroyo will be in Cebu today to attend the general assembly of the League of Municipalities at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino. She is also expected to join the 25th Conference of the ASEAN Federation of Engineering Organization (CAFEO) in the same hotel.

She will arrive 9:30 a.m. at the Mactan Ebuen Air Base where she will be welcomed by Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Arturo Radaza, Cebu sixth district Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, Presidential Management Chief of Staff Cerge Remonde, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, officials of the local police and military, among others.

From there, she will motor to the Waterfront Hotel for the LMP gathering where she is expected to deliver an inspirational message. After the gathering, she will then drop by the CAFEO.

From the hotel, President Arroyo will then proceed to the Malacañang sa Sugbo where she will host an early Christmas party for the local members of the media and their families.

But the party has raised questions among the critics of Arroyo, whose administration has been recently rocked by scandals.

Capadocia, however explained that the idea on having a Christmas party with the media actually came from their office.

“We’ve been working on this. The President has always been with you so when we brought it up to her, she agreed. Social lang,” he said.

Capadocia said the President had been hosting a party with the Malacañang Press Corps in Manila but this is the first out-of-town party for the media that she will be hosting. “She recognizes that there is Malacañang Press Corps in Cebu.”

In fact, he said the Malacañang Press Corps in Manila will have its own Christmas party with the President on Dec. 14. On Dec. 17, he said that President Arroyo will also host separate party for media practitioners working for TV, print and radio.

Capadocia said he even suggested to Arroyo to host a separate Christmas party for the newsboys and newspaper dealers in Manila, which the President welcomed.

The Philippine Information Agency-7 said that it expects around 500 members of the local media, their families and other guests to attend the media party, which will be held at 11 a.m.

Those who will attend are advised to be at the Malacañang sa Sugbo at least one hour before the event because they still have to undergo tight security check. They will also be given passes and control numbers for the raffle.

Proper dress code will be observed for the occasion and those who will attend are advised to wear smart casual attire. - Wenna A. Berondo/LPM

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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