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While some people may have been miffed by President Benigno Aquino III's absence from the ceremony to welcome the remains of fallen policemen who died in an encounter in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao, a Palace official on Thursday downplayed the issue, saying it wasn't the sentiment of the majority.
"Sa amin pong monitoring ay hindi naman 'yan majority view," said Communication Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma Jr. in a news briefing.
Still, Coloma said the administration respects the difference in opinion.
"Ganunpaman, isinasaalang-alang lahat ng mga pananaw, bagama't naiiba, at patuloy pa rin 'yung panawagan at paghimok sa lahat ng mga mamamayan na ilagay po natin sa unang posisyon ang kapakanan ng ating buong bansa," he said.
Aquino was conspicuously absent when the remains of 42 elite policemen arrived at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. They were killed in what authorities called a "misencounter" last Sunday. Two other slain members of the team were buried in Zamboanga City in accordance with Islamic rites.
Among the Cabinet officials that were present during the event were Vice President Jejomar Binay, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas, Transport Secretary Joseph Emilio "Jun" Abaya, and Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
Other notable guests were former President Fidel V. Ramos, Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos, Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, and Sen. Nancy Binay.
But Aquino, who proclaimed the fallen policemen heroes, was at the inauguration of a car plant in Laguna.
Netizens criticized Aquino for not attending the arrival honors, with some of them saying the President "has no empathy" and "has no sincerity in sympathizing with our fallen SAFs."
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte explained away Aquino’s absence by saying he was not scheduled to attend the event, but was set to attend the necrological service for the slain policemen on Friday. — Patricia Denise Chiu/JST, GMA News