Former prime minister Patrick Manning says he is not giving interviews to the media, in wake of reports by architect Stephen Mendes that Manning was personally involved in the commissioning of the controversial Guanapo Church project. Manning spoke briefly with media personnel, who waited outside his home at Sumadh Gardens, Vistabella, yesterday, with the hope of getting an interview. A Guard and Emergency Branch police officer, stationed at Manning's home, said the San Fernando East MP was not seeing any members of the media. The officer said Manning had visitors and was busy. Just after midday, Manning's son Brian pulled up in a black Prado. He extended courtesies to the media before speaking with the guard who opened the automatic gate to allow him inside.
Brian agreed to tell his father that members of the media wanted to speak with him. A few minutes later, Manning Sr looked out of the window. He trotted down the stairs wearing a grim face, khaki shorts and a patterned shirt. After shaking everyone's hands, Manning said:
"Folks, I am in my house. I am not interfering with anybody, and there is no need for you to be here." Asked how he was spending his days since the May 24 polls, Manning said: "I am not giving any interviews to the media at this time." Pressed further, Manning added: "I have just come outside to wish you all well and to tell you all to enjoy the rest of your afternoon." He then smiled and turned away. As reporters threw more questions at Manning, he responded firmly saying: "I wish you all well, folks. Enjoy the rest of your day."
On Saturday, Manning also declined interviews with the press. He has yet to break his silence on the issue. Nine days before the May 24 general elections, current Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar held a news conference showing documents which purportedly linked Manning directly to the Guanapo Heights project. One of the documents was a May 2 letter written by architect Mendes to former Urban Development Corporation Executive Chairman Calder Hart. In the letter, Mendes referred to Patrick Manning as PM. He later stated in a signed statement that the "PM" referred to Prime Minister Patrick Manning.
Manning had initially stated that Mendes might have meant project manager when he referred to PM.