ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Local Mayor Celso Lobregat expressed surprise over negative reactions articulated by various sectors concerning his supposed statement on the US Bases, which he said is a non-issue, government media said.
"This is so much ado about nothing", Mayor Lobregat declared referring to statements issued by various sectors hitting him for allegedly offering Zamboanga as the site for US bases.
The issue, he said, stemmed from his message during the turnover of computer units at the Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology (ZSCMST) in Rio Hondo this city where American Ambassador Kristie Kenney and US Senators Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Ted Stevens of Alaska were the guest of honors.
"I was relating a footnote in history", he said. "I was misquoted and I was taken out of context".
Mayor Lobregat explained that in his speech, he merely related about the long standing relationship between the city government of Zamboanga and the US.
I said when the Philippine Senate voted not to ratify the Bases Extension Agreement, the people of Zamboanga at that time (17 years ago) were saying that if people in Luzon don't want the bases in Luzon, the US could have the bases here (in the city) but the Constitution does not allow it".
Also, at the height of the controversy of the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) in 1996, the Zamboanga City Council asked the Regional Development Council in Western Mindanao to "study, assess, evaluate and recommend the possibility of making Zamboanga or any part of Western Mindanao as site for the US bases".
"This is so much ado about nothing because I did not offer Zamboanga City as a site for any bases, first of all the constitution does not allow it and this is a non-issue," the mayor reiterated.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer, a daily newspaper of national circulation and its website www.inquirer.net including the tabloid Bandera on Tuesday published a news item stating that the mayor has offered Zamboanga as the site for US bases triggering negative reactions from numerous sectors.
In a meeting with members of the City Council at the City hall Conference room Wednesday afternoon, the mayor replayed the video of his message delivered during the affair at the ZSCMST to prove his point. Nowhere in the video did the mayor say that he is offering Zamboanga as the site of the US bases. (Philippine Information Agency)