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Palace: PNoy never said 'tabla-tabla tayo' to SAF kin

Louis Bacani - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang denied on Monday that President Benigno Aquino III told the families of the slain Special Action Force (SAF) commandos that they are now all square because his father was also killed.

In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda belied reports that Aquino used the words "tabla-tabla tayo" (we're all square) during his meeting with the relatives of the SAF troopers at Camp Crame on February 18.

LOOK: Aquino's makes surprise visit to SAF families

Earlier reports said Aquino used such words as he tried to sympathize with the families by recalling the assassination of his father.

Lacierda said he asked Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, who joined Aquino in the meeting, regarding the incident, but the Cabinet official did not recall the President making such remark.

"Secretary Dinky Soliman, who was present, said he (the President) never said it. In fact, what he said was: Pareho tayong nawalan," Lacierda said.

Aquino's supposed remarks offended the grieving relatives of the police commandos.

Lacierda said Aquino was only "expressing solidarity" with the families, but it may be possible that they misinterpreted the President's statements.

"It’s not so much to say 'tabla-tabla,'" Lacierda said. "I think that may perhaps been interpretation owing to the (families') anger and frustration while we're looking for justice and accountability for their murdered relatives."

"Out of respect for them, we tried not to invade their privacy. But this has come to a situation where certain words were being put into the President’s mouth. And interpretations can vary from one family to another," he also said.

During the meeting at Camp Crame, Aquino was also allegedly irritated by the families' repeated questions on when and how will justice will be achieved.

The families were offended when Aquino reportedly blurted out "Anong gusto ninyo, kunan namin ng fingerprints ang lahat ng MILF?"

The Philippine National Police had denied that there were tense moments during Aquino's surprise meeting with the families.

READ: No heated exchange between PNoy, SAF families - PNP

AQUINO

CAMP CRAME

FAMILIES

LACIERDA

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE

PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON EDWIN LACIERDA

SECRETARY DINKY SOLIMAN

SOCIAL WELFARE SECRETARY DINKY SOLIMAN

SPECIAL ACTION FORCE

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