Remulla: I met with Andal Jr., but only for security reasons
By Christina Mendez
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Nacionalista Party (NP) senatorial bet Gilbert Remulla yesterday confirmed reports that he sought an audience with Maguindanao massacre suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr., not to court votes, but for security reasons.
“Yes I did. I do not deny it but it’s for personal and security reasons,” Remulla said during yesterday’s NP press conference in Pasay City.
Remulla was quick to douse speculations that he struck a deal with the Ampatuans, a stark contrast to his earlier campaign to seek justice for the victims of the grisly carnage.
Emotions ran high during the press conference, especially when fellow senatoriable Adel Tamano expressed his disappointment over the former Cavite congressman’s action.
Remulla, a former TV reporter, took up the cudgels for the massacre victims by dramatizing their cause in various provinces during the start of the campaign.
“Let me reiterate that my stand against the Maguindanao massacre is ever stronger than before. As a former journalist I condemned what has happened and I believe that the victims of the Maguindanao massacre has to be given justice and the prime suspects have to be tried completely,” he said.
It was at this point that Tamano, who was seated at the far end of the table, made public his sentiments on the issue.
Tamano admitted that he and some of their fellow senatorial bets were saddened by Remulla’s visit because the NP has been vocal in seeking for justice of the Maguindanao massacre victims.
He reiterated that he has been saying from the start, in his capacity as party spokesman, that the NP will never make any deals with the Ampatuans.
“We will never seek any endorsement from them because an endorsement from the Ampatuan who is a creation of GMA is an endorsement from GMA,” he said.
The two NP bets were seen almost glaring at each other, while the other NP bets – Gwen Pimentel, Toots Ople, Mon-Mon Mitra, and Martin Loon (representing detained Col. Ariel Querubin) – seated at the long table seemed oblivious of the clash between the two NP spokesmen.
Observers noticed that NP secretary general Sen. Alan Cayetano tried to pacify Remulla who was seated beside him.
After the press conference, Tamano admitted being upset but said that he was not mad at Remulla and only wanted to make sure that the NP bets were not compromised by the visit.
“I think, (it was for) my own personal safety. I think anybody would do that. I think as a parent (I have to protect my family),” said Remulla, a brother-in-law of Sigfrid Fortun, who is among the lawyers of the Ampatuans.
Asked if he was “marked” or “blacklisted” by the Ampatuans, Remulla said, ”Let’s leave it at that. Because it’s a safety and security concern.”
Remulla later appealed to the media not to make an issue out of it.