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Palace: PNoy partied with PSG for only 30 minutes in 'Sendong' aftermath

Malacañang officials on Monday defended President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s presence at the Christmas party of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) on Sunday afternoon while the bodies of flood victims were piling up in Mindanao.    In a text message to reporters, Ricky Carandang, head of the Presidential Communication Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO), said “the President dropped by the PSG party for a few minutes.”   Carandang said on Sunday the Cabinet cancelled its Christmas party but the PSG decided to push through with theirs because relatives of the soldiers had already flown in from the provinces.                  Another member of the President’s communication group, Manuel Quezon III, also confirmed Aquino’s presence during the PSG party.   “Checked and indeed there was a PSG party last night: it couldn't be cancelled (unlike annual Cabinet Xmas Party scheduled for tonight, which was cancelled yesterday afternoon, so funds could go to relief). President dropped by for 30 minutes to be with those who saved his life,” Quezon posted on his Twitter account. Tweeting about PNoy's partying The President’s supposed partying in the aftermath of Tropical Storm "Sendong" (international name: Washi)  sparked a debate on the propriety of the former’s actions in the midst of tragedy.   Actress Valerie Concepcion, who performed during the party, is believed to be the first person to make public Aquino’s attendance  through her tweet. "Yes, the President attended the gathering. I do not see anything wrong with that because it’s his obligation and responsibility being the head of Malacañang to be present and show his support for his hardworking employees and their respective families,” Concepcion tweeted at 3:21 a.m. on Monday.  “But I believe that it doesn’t mean that the President is not thinking of ways to help our kababayans in Mindanao,” she  also said. “Let’s not be too quick to judge.”
In an earlier tweet that has been deleted from Concepcion’s Twitter timeline but captured through screen grabs, the actress said, “It was nice to see PNoy laughing at my jokes and enjoying my performance.”
Concepcion has apologized for this tweet.
“If I, in any way, offended you guys and sounded insensitive, I am very sorry. It wasn’t my intention to do either. I can’t imagine how difficult life is for the people affected in Mindanao and how difficult it is to be the president of the Philippines at this moment,” she said. Disaster-stricken areas Heavy rains from "Sendong" caused massive flooding in Mindanao, especially in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. Philippine Red Cross (PRC) secretary general Gwendolyn Pang said as of Monday morning, 652 were reported dead while 911 people are listed as missing, after "Sendong" triggered flash floods and landslides that swept away entire coastal villages. Local government officials of areas hit hard by tropical storm "Sendong" last weekend appealed on Monday for donations of bottled water and clothes, saying many of the flood victims have not had a change of clothes since Friday. In an interview over radio dzBB, Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz said "This has never happened ... ever since hindi pa nangyayari itong flooding na ito.  (ever since, this kind of flooding has never happened) We have taken the worst of flooding but this was never imaginable ... nothing comes close to this." Also in an interview over radio dzBB, Cagayan de Oro City Vice Mayor Caesar Ian said, "We did not expect ganoon talaga kalakas (it would be that bad). Cagayan de Oro is not a flood- and typhoon-prone area."
The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) noted that rain had been falling on the hard-hit areas for a month.
PAGASA forecaster Elvie Enriquez also claimed that illegal logging and mining were partly to blame.
"Isang buwan na halos nag-uulan dito sa mga lugar na ito, hindi na ma-absorb ang ulan, saturated na (It had been raining for a month, the land could no longer absorb rain)," Enriquez said over radio dzBB.  - with a report from Paterno Esmaquel/VVP/HS, GMA News