Potential successor to Philippine leader 'sorry' for dispute with golf club

MANILA (AFP) - Philippine Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas has publicly apologised after a confrontation with golf club employees led to him getting a short-term ban from one of Manila's most prestigious golf courses.

Seen by many Filipinos as a potential successor to President Benigno Aquino, Mr Roxas, better known as "Mar", said the incident concerned the payment of green fees at the private Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.

"I have already apologised for any infractions or hurt feelings as a result of this misunderstanding over the payment of green fees for non-players," Mr Roxas, 56, said in a statement on Saturday.

"It was not my intention to hurt or insult anyone, and I did not curse at anyone either," he said, rejecting local media reports that he had cursed and shouted at golf club employees. The reports alleged that Mr Roxas resented being charged green fees for a non-member friend he had invited.

Built in 1930, Wack Wack charges range fees of 5,800 pesos (S$163) on weekends and 3,800 pesos on weekdays, the golfing website www.worldgolf.com said.

"Wack Wack Golf and Country Club... announced the two-month suspension of proprietary member Manuel A. Roxas II for violation of club rules and regulations," the club said in the statement.

The statement did not discuss the nature of the violation, saying only that the punishment was "consistent with actions taken by the club to uphold its policies and to maintain good order at all times".

Mr Roxas, a 20-year member of the club, said he accepts the sanction. "I do not consider myself above any law, rule, or regulation, accordingly I accede to it," he added.

The scion of a landed central Philippines clan and grandson of a former Philippine president, former senator Roxas registered to run in the 2010 presidential election but later agreed to stand down and support his friend Mr Aquino.

Mr Roxas, a former New York investment banker, instead ran for vice-president, projecting himself as a man of the people attuned to the sufferings of the poor. However he narrowly lost to Mr Jejomar Binay, the opposition candidate.

Mr Roxas and Mr Binay are widely expected to contest the 2016 presidential elections when Mr Aquino's six-year term ends.