The British Embassy in Manila made a major booboo today when it sent journalists a press release stating that the UK Government is extending its condolences "following the death of President Corazon Aquino."
Here's what the embassy sent to journalists more than two hours ago:
UK Government extends condolences following the death of President Corazon
Following the news of Corazon Aquino's death Foreign Office Minister Lord Malloch Brown has extended the British Government's condolences to her family. Lord Brown, who worked closely with Mrs. Aquino during her election campaign said: "I received the news of Corazon Aquino's death with great sadness. As an advisor in her campaign against President Marcos, the privilege of working with Cory and watching her was one of my life's greatest lessons in courage, leadership, the art of politics and humanity. The way she and all her family made such friends of me as an outsider is something I have always treasured. On behalf of the British Government I extend our condolences to her family at this difficult time."
British Ambassador Peter Beckingham added: "I had the honour and pleasure of meeting former President Aquino on several occasions, when we were able to discuss her visits to London and her interests in members of the Filipino community in Britain, especially those serving in the Church. Those discussions left me with an overwhelming sense of her grace, charisma and compassion. The Philippines has lost a wonderful leader who is widely admired in Britain for her courage and inspiration."
Aquino, on the contrary, is still alive. Jiggy Cruz, Aquino's eldest grandson, has been tweeting that the former president is still alive. "(S)pending time with my Lola (grandmother). People, don't believe the rumor," Cruz tweeted earlier. Another tweet from Cruz, just a few minutes ago: "To all those concerned, please don't believe the rumors that are spreading..."
A few minutes after realizing its gaffe, the British embassy sent another email to journalists. In my opinion, the email sounded callous and less than sincere about the earlier release:
"Our deepest apologies, it appears the information we received was premature. Please embargo our statement until Pres. Aquino's passing has been confirmed. Thank you very much for your understanding."
Can't you just feel the love?
Okay, mistakes happen and I understand that the UK embassy realized that it had a made a mistake in sending the first release (although the embassy staff could have really waited for an official announcement on the issue, especially since we are talking about Pres. Aquino here--a global icon of democracy and a moral guiding light in this sorry country of ours). I also felt that the embassy officials were very sincere in their statements.
What irks me is the way they try to wangle themselves out of the situation by issuing the second email only to come across callous and insensitive.