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Panelo: Ex-Ombudsman not a security threat; she is a good friend and one time dance partner.

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo refused to echo reports that China is considering former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales as a security threat, saying the latter was a good friend and dance partner of his years back.

Panelo made the statement days after immigration authorities at an airport in Hong Kong held Morales Tuesday and was deported back to the Philippines the same day.

In his Thursday press briefing, Panelo said that despite reports of Morales being considered a threat, the Palace does not have a label for the former magistrate.

"Wala (We have no label for her). She's a Filipino citizen, and a member of the bar, and a good friend of mine years back in the College of Law. She was fourth year, and I was freshman," he said.

"Magaling 'yan magsayaw. Magaling mag-ballroom. Naisayaw ko na 'yan sa ballroom (She's a good dancer. I danced ballroom with her before)," he added.

Panelo earlier said that Malacanang would be keeping its hands off the Morales-China issue despite the call of Senator Risa Hontiveros to protest what happened to Morales. However, in his Thursday briefing, Panelo said the government would only protest if China had disrespected the former Ombudsman.

"Kung binastos siya, kung ministreat siya, hindi pupwede sa atin 'yan (If she was disrespected or mistreated, we will not allow that), we will definitely protest. Pero hindi naman (But that was not the case)," Panelo said, recalling a phone conversation with Morales after the news broke out.

"Wala naman siyang reklamo na binastos siya diba? Naiinis lang siya, nayayamot lang siya kasi nasira yung plano niya for the grandchildren (She did not have any complaint right? She was just irritated because her plans for her grandchildren were ruined)," he added.

The Palace official then said Malacanang would just let Morales be with what she thinks of what happened to her.

"She is entitled to her opinion, she exercises her right to freedom of expression and we respect that, all of us," Panelo said.


Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:May 23, 2019
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