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Palace laughs off COPA bugging claims

- Marichu A. Villanueva -
The government has bigger fish to fry.

Malacañang yesterday laughed off claims by the Council of Philippine Affairs (COPA) that the so-called civil society group is under surveillance by some of President Arroyo’s officials.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the government is too deeply involved in its "total war" on crime and terrorism to use its intelligence-gathering resources on "rumor-mongers," including groups like COPA.

"The President has precisely instructed that our resources be used for total war against crimes. COPA wouldn’t fall within that category," Bunye added.

Bunye added that the government has bigger fish to fry: "They’re (COPA) giving themselves too much importance. They think they’re so important that the resources of the government would be used against them."

Bunye twitted the allegations aired by former Tarlac Rep. Jose "Peping" Cojuanco, founding member and prime mover of COPA, which was among the civil society groups that backed Mrs. Arroyo during EDSA II.

While he admitted that COPA members "float some things" in media, Cojuanco said that certain information reaching Mrs. Arroyo is obtained through what he suspects are wiretaps on their telephones and constant surveillance of their persons and activities.

Cojuanco made his accusations two weeks after he and his wife, former Tarlac Gov. Margarita "Tingting" Cojuanco, met with the President at Malacañang to reiterate their support for her administration.

The Cojuanco couple met with Mrs. Arroyo one week after she virtually broke ties with COPA following the latest salvo of criticism hurled at her by COPA secretary-general Pastor "Boy" Saycon.

After Saycon made his public apologies to the President, Cojuangco said, COPA members closed the issue of Mrs. Arroyo’s describing Saycon as a "termite." COPA, Cojuanco added, will also henceforth observe "silence" in their media interviews on this specific issue.

"The President would really like as much as possible to put this COPA thing behind us. I don’t think she is disposed to use or devote her energies to answering all the criticism of COPA," Bunye said. "As far as their allegations are concerned, (they have) no basis in fact. It’s pointless to use the resources of government for (surveillance of COPA)."

AFTER SAYCON

BUNYE

COJUANCO

COPA

COUNCIL OF PHILIPPINE AFFAIRS

MALACA

MRS. ARROYO

PRESIDENT ARROYO

PRESS SECRETARY IGNACIO BUNYE

SAYCON

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