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PIA Press Release

GMA 'terribly upset' over my prayer - Dureza

Manila (21 November) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was "terribly upset" over the impromptu opening prayer of Press Secretary Jesus Dureza at last Tuesday's (Nov. 18) Cabinet meeting in Malacaņang.

This was disclosed by Dureza himself in a press statement yesterday afternoon.

In his mea culpa, Dureza admitted that "it was a mistake on my part to subject the President to such undeserved flak."

He said he apologized to the President "later that day when media reported (the incident) with a spin for term extension - at her expense."

"I take full responsibility and own up solely to the blame," he added.

The controversial prayer invoked God's blessing for the President "so she will have the forbearance, good health, tolerance to lead this nation up to 2010 and, perhaps, who knows, even beyond."

This was interpreted by some sectors of the media and administration critics as a call for an extension of the President's term through a constitutional or Charter change.

But Malacaņang, for the umpteenth time, stressed that President Arroyo has no intention to extend her term of office beyond June 2010.

The President herself has repeatedly declared that she will step down when her constitutional term expires.

At his regular press conference in Malacaņang on Wednesday, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that the "issue of Cha-Cha is hardly being discussed by anybody and I suppose I'm close enough to the President to share what her thoughts are (on Cha-Cha) pero wala naman."

Ermita was fielding a question on Dureza's prayer.

"Just to set the record straight, the President was terribly upset due to my prayer, although immediately after the Cabinet meeting she didn't show much displeasure because I told her about my drowned-out phrase 'in her personal and private capacity,' and that I requested media to keep it off the record," Dureza said.

"One lesson I learned is that, next time, I'll pray in silence," Dureza added. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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