SENATORS URGE GMA TO STOP DENYING 2004 PLANS

Manila, May 24, 2003
-- Sen. John Osmeņa yesterday urged President Arroyo
to just admit she intends to run in the 2004 presidential elections despite
her Rizal Day pronouncement.

"You know, I wish she would face up to the problem of credibility. Kung ang
kilos, kandidato, eh di kandidato ka. Tama na yung pahele-hele," Osmeņa said.

He said Arroyo is losing her credibility by repeatedly saying she is not
seeking the presidency next year when her actions show otherwise.

He cited Arroyo's visits to the provinces, a TV ad showing Arroyo promoting
roll-on-roll off vessels, and an instance when, he said, Arroyo distributed
early this year P1 million checks to provincial executives.

"The more she denies, the more she is hurting herself because pangit naman
ang presidente na walang credibility," he said.

Arroyo, in a teleconference Wednesday in the US, blew her top after being
repeatedly asked if there is a chance she would change her mind and run
next year.

"You're so fixated in 2004. My focus is what I need to do in the next 14
months. And if you are fixated on that, I'm not going to feed your
insatiable appetite for the wrong, wrong issues that should be occupying
our mind (sic)," she said.

Sen. Teresa Aquino Oreta said Arroyo, instead of venting her ire on media
who were asking "legitimate questions" about her political plans, should go
after Malacaņang officials and Lakas partymates who continue to float the
idea about her possible candidacy.

Otherwise, Arroyo would lose her hard-earned credibility before the
business community and the "masa," she said.

"Her allies might think they're doing the President a favor, but they are
actually doing her a great disservice because the issue has raised
questions about her credibility and sincerity," she said.

Heherson Alvarez, presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers and
spokesman of Lakas-CMD which is co-chaired by Arroyo, said Thursday they
would try to convince Arroyo to reconsider.

Oreta said Arroyo's allies in the business community are wary about her
running in 2004.

She cited reports that leaders of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and
Industry and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines believe that
speculations about Arroyo's candidacy would only "distract" her from
dealing with more important issues concerning the economy and national
security.

On suggestions to gag certain Cabinet officials, presidential advisers, and
allies who continue to persuade Arroyo to reconsider her decision,
Rigoberto Tiglao, presidential chief of staff, said "not really a gag
order, but I think every, at least for the executive branch, the
President's order is we buckle down to work." (Malaya)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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