Suarez hits PNoy for wheelchair joke

Posted at 10/24/2012 11:04 AM | Updated as of 10/24/2012 2:14 PM

MANILA, Philippines - House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez is not amused with President Aquino's wheelchair joke against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Suarez said Aquino's joke that corrupt Filipinos try to evade prosecution in court by using wheelchairs was uncalled for.

Aquino was referring to the wheelchair-bound Arroyo, who tried to leave for medical treatment abroad in November 2011, but was stopped by authorities. He told Filipinos in New Zealand: "Our countrymen who are corrupt in the Philippines have luxurious, expensive and fast cars. But if they want to escape (prosecution), they use a wheelchair.”

Suarez said the President should stop criticizing Arroyo.

"Para sa akin lang, me sakit na nga yung Presidente. Tatlong beses na nga binuksan, hiniwa yung leeg. Meron pa nagsabi sa minority presscon baka sinadya lang so she can avoid being detained in a regular jail. Siguro kung gigilitin ko leeg mo ng tatlong beses at bubutasan ko batok mo ng 2 beses eh, wag na lang. I visited her last week. She's sick," he told ANC.

"Sometimes, she strains herself at baka bumabara na naman yung metal plate sa kanyang lalamunan. How can you live normally if you can't eat and drink properly?" he added.

Suarez said he no longer knows where the attacks against Mrs. Arroyo are coming from, noting that the criticisms have been relentless. He noted the former President only eats soft food because of her condition.

The minority leader also opposed moves to put Mrs. Arroyo in a regular jail cell on plunder charges.

Arroyo is currently confined at the intensive care unit of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City due to ischemia of the heart, apparently a complication of her neck ailment. The former leader was arrested shortly after the 2011 incident on charges of electoral sabotage.

On Tuesday, a spokesman of Mrs. Arroyo said the President's joke was cruel and "unpresidential.

“Making fun of the ailment of person, a very serious one at that, is cruel,” lawyer Raul Lambino  said.

“It has now become easy for him to tell those kind of jokes. It’s unpresidential to be cracking those jokes,” he added.

Malacañang, however, defended Aquino’s allusions to Arroyo, saying the blame should be on the guy who created the wheelchair joke.

“It was not the President who crafted that joke,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.      

“First, let’s not take ourselves too seriously. And again, at the end of the day, it was a joke."  With a report from The Philippine Star