Nalzaro: Presidential ‘apo’s’ photo controversy

ALMOST a decade ago, I had the chance to visit Malacañang upon the invitation of the late press secretary Cerge Remonde during the Arroyo administration. I was in Manila attending a seminar and when Cerge knew I was there he invited me to visit him in the Palace. Cerge toured me there. We even entered sensitive areas like the Heroe’s Hall, the Cabinet conference hall and in the president’s office.

Cerge also acted as my photographer using my then analogue cellular phone. I posed at the president’s office with the presidential seal in the background. President Arroyo was not in her office at that time. Unfortunately, I was not able to save those when my old phone cracked. Facebook was not yet popular at that time. Kun naka-save pa ko ato, ako unta tong i-post sa FB karon para pagmatuod nga ang “promdi” (from the province) nakataak intawon sa Malacañang.

Now, President Duterte got some flak from netizens because of that controversial pre-debut photoshoot of his granddaughter, Isabelle Duterte, daughter of Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.

Maybe there was a request from her to have one of her photo sessions done in Malacañang with the official zeal in the background because that was an opportunity. Kausa ra man ning debut. Ee know that Filipinos are very sentimental and we always cherish events and things thst evoke memorable moments.

Poor, Isabelle. She is now the subject of a public condemnation because of that photoshoot. When that photo came out, some netizens came up with a price tag for her clothes. Siguro gyud kaha sila nga mahalon tong gown nga gisul-ob ni Isabelle? Basin hinimo ra to didto sa Davao? We are very judgmental.

So, what’s the big fuss on this issue? Were government funds used for that photoshoot? Did it violate Palace protocol? Did it involve national security? I think there was no taxpayers’ money involved. If ever there was, maybe it’s for electricity consumption in the Palace. Pero hasta pa gyud na daginuton?

I don’t think it violated protocol based on my experience. Nakapahulagway man gani ko kana pa kahang apo sa presidente? Anybody who visits Malacañang can have the chance to pose for a photo. ?Those who took their oaths before the president are allowed to do that with their families and with the presidential seal in the background.

And it does not involve national security because the subject of the photograph is a presidential granddaughter. Makasulod man gani nang uban kana pang apo sa presidente? The photoshoot has spawned the parody account, “Malacanang Events and Catering Services,” which took a jab at private events held in the country’s seat of power.

Was the Heroes Hall, where huge gatherings are usually held, not used for personal affairs by the past administrations? Former First Lady Imelda Marcos used Malacañang resources to entertain her guests in private affairs.

For me, this is a non-issue but some quarters with personal and political motives blew it out of proportion just to make the public image of the President look bad. I hope Duterte’s detractors can look for a bigger and more pressing controversial issues to hit him back. Mao ni giingon nga “little business very hot.” Way labot ang nasud aning isyuha.
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