CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA, OCTOBER 29, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Michael Lim Ubac Philippine Daily Inquirer - President Benigno Aquino was taken ill, prompting him to cut short his attendance at the official dinner hosted by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Held at the private dining room of Parliament House, the dinner was attended by the Australian ruling class—top officials of the Gillard Cabinet, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, diplomats, military officials and other invited guests.

A concerned Gillard then dispensed with the formalities and protocol after Mr. Aquino complained that he was not feeling well.

“Can I acknowledge Your Excellency, Mr. President. Thank you for gracing us with your presence this evening. We are very, very disappointed that you had become unwell, but we wish you a very speedy recovery and a good night’s rest here in Australia,” said Gillard, who delivered her speech ahead of the President.

Warming up

“As the President—and I have warmed up—I have remarked, and if all members of this, delegation could note this that he should be saved from any paperwork during the course of this evening,” she said to chuckles from the banquet guests.

“I know what it’s like to be chased around with paperwork when you’re feeling unwell and I’m sure it’s going to aid his recovery if he is left undisturbed tonight, which is my way of acknowledging our other honored Filipino guests,” she added.

Mr. Aquino spoke briefly but left soon after his speech without touching his food.

Escorted by Gillard

On instructions from the prime minister, the guests went ahead with the traditional toast usually led by heads of state or government, and partook of a three-course meal, with a pan fried snapper as the main course.

Sought for comment, Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang confirmed that Mr. Aquino, who came from a state visit to New Zealand, was sick.

“Yes, a bit. But he should be better tomorrow,” Carandang said.

Asked if his boss was nursing a cold or flu, Carandang said: “No. He’s fine. He finished all his duties today.”


GMA camp hits P-Noy for 'cruel joke' By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) Updated October 24, 2012 12:00 AMComments (112)

MANILA, Philippines - A spokesman for Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo slammed yesterday President Aquino for making fun of her life-threatening condition.

Lawyer Raul Lambino was reacting to the President’s joke before members of the Filipino community during a state visit in Auckland, New Zealand.

Aquino supposedly said, “Our countrymen who are corrupt in the Philippines have luxurious, expensive and fast cars. But if they want to escape (prosecution), they use a wheelchair.”

The President said he just got the joke in a text message.

Lambino said Aquino was obviously referring to an incident at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in November 2011 when Arroyo, in a wheelchair, was prevented from leaving for Hong Kong to seek medical treatment.

There was no hold departure order (HDO) issued against the former President, as there were no cases yet filed against her.

The only basis by which she was barred from leaving was a watch-list order issued by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, which is not equivalent to an HDO. Under Philippine laws, the right to travel is almost absolute, and only an HDO can prevent a person from going abroad.

“Making fun of the ailment of person, a very serious one at that, is cruel,” Lambino said.

“It has now become easy for him to tell those kind of jokes. It’s unpresidential to be cracking those jokes,” he added.

As this developed, Malacañang defended yesterday Aquino’s allusions to Arroyo, saying the blame should be on the guy who created the wheelchair joke. “It was not the President who crafted that joke,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

“First, let’s not take ourselves too seriously. And again, at the end of the day, it was a joke,” she told Palace reporters.

Arroyo is currently confined at the intensive care unit of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City due to ischemia of the heart, apparently a complication of her neck ailment.

The former leader was arrested shortly after the 2011 incident on charges of electoral sabotage.

She was detained at the VMMC for a year and was eventually ordered released by the Pasay regional trial court, which granted her bail.

She was, however, re-arrested and detained at the VMMC earlier this month, this time on plunder charges. Months ago Arroyo underwent three surgeries to relieve pressure on her neck. The titanium implants have dislocated and have yet to be corrected in another operation. Her doctors said she is at high risk of “sudden death” and insisted that any corrective surgery must be done abroad.

Arroyo is seeking re-election for the second district of her home province, Pampanga. – With Delon Porcalla

PNoy takes swipe at Arroyo anew


VIDEO: ublished on Oct 22, 2012 by TheABSCBNNews

President Benigno Aquino is on a week-long state visit to New Zealand and Australia. In his meeting with the Filipino community in Auckland, the chief executive highlighted the gains of his administration while also taking another swipe at his predecessor, the detained former President Gloria Arroyo.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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