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Ramos denies Libyan campaign contributions

MANILA, Philippines -  Former President Fidel Ramos yesterday challenged Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago to invite ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to her proposed Senate inquiry as he denied receiving P5 million in campaign contributions from Gadhafi in 1992.

“If I may suggest, please also invite Col. Gadhafi and then Ambassador Burghardt to the Senate probe desired by Santiago,” Ramos said in a statement.

“Per his own statement in worldwide media the other day, Gadhafi is still very much alive and may be available to shed light on the matter,” he added.

Santiago had accused Ramos of stealing her victory in the 1992 presidential elections.

According to Ramos, the feisty senator’s wish to put him behind bars was not new.

Years ago, he said Santiago publicly accused him of trying to assassinate her by crashing a military jeep into her vehicle which, according to the senator, was the cause of her various chronic ailments.

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The allegations against Ramos stemmed from an exposé of WikiLeaks, an anti-secrecy website, saying then US State Department Deputy Chief of Mission Raymond Burghardt sent a cable on July 19, 1994 and quoted retired De La Salle University professor Joel de los Santos, an Islamic affairs expert, as telling an embassy political officer that the former President received campaign money from the "Libyans."

Ramos supposedly went to Libya with former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. in 1992 to negotiate a peace accord between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front.

"The WikiLeaks report on which Sen. Santiago's latest attempt to have me incarcerated is hearsay by itself, and is further based on a string of successive hearsay conversations," Ramos added.

The former leader said he would not shy away from any Senate investigation as he did in the past.

Miriam pooh-poohs FVR challenge

Santiago scoffed at the challenge of Ramos for her to invite Gadhafi to her proposed inquiry into the issue, saying that he has an "infinite ignorance of international relations."

"How can you possibly invite Gadhafi when even the International Criminal Court cannot serve a warrant of arrest against him?" Santiago asked.

"FVR is trying to divert public attention away from his own wrongdoing or crime and into this ridiculous assertion that we must first ask someone who is beyond our reach," she added.

Santiago said she expected Ramos to deny the allegations that he received campaign funds from the Gadhafi-led Libyan government in 1992.

However, she said the issue at hand is the authenticity of the cable link provided by WikiLeaks.

"If there is no question about their authenticity, then it is a question of their very similitude. How close are they to the truth?" Santiago said.

Meanwhile, Parañaque City Rep. Roilo Golez said the embarrassing exposés in cables by US diplomats on Philippine government personalities would have barely an effect on national security.

"Most of these really consist of comments and opinions of minor officials, not policymakers or Cabinet-level officials so this should not be of much concern. Maybe this should be handled at a low level or better we just ignore them," said Golez, a former national security adviser.

Golez and Ang Kasangga party-list Rep. Teodorico Haresco said the officials who have been drawing conclusions apparently have failed to take into account the "cultural context," particularly on comments that President Aquino was "diffident."

"The President was a good son and in our culture, children remain respectful of their parents, unlike if you compare him with an American son who would swagger and talk back to his parents," Haresco said.

Golez said Aquino was "modest," knowing that his parents are considered heroes and icons of Philippine democracy. - With Marvin Sy

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