GMA PRESSURE BSP CHIEF TO QUIT - ORETA; GMA DENIES GOVT HAND IN IT

MANILA, August 15, 2003 (STAR) Opposition Senator Teresa Aquino-Oreta accused President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of pressuring central bank Governor Rafael Buenaventura to quit in preparation to her expected candidacy in the May 2004 elections.

In making the claim, Oreta said she has it on good authority that Pres. Arroyo wants to replace the head of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) with "someone who would be more malleable and willing to use the BSP to prop up her political agenda."

She said the decision of the Court of Appeals suspending the BSP governor is part of an "apparent squeeze job" on the country's central banker.

Oreta said the Arroyo administration can use the BSP, which is an independent body, to create an artificially better economic environment before next year's election.

As an example, she cited the peso-US dollar exchange rate which the central bank can heavily tilt in favor of the local currency by dumping dollars in the market and resulting in a good rate for the peso.

"The administration will earn pogi (handsome) points if the rate goes down to, for instance, 53 pesos to the dollar. People might forget about the huge budget deficit which in the first place is among the factors that drive the exchange rate up," she said.

Earlier, Pres. Arroyo said in a statement, "We respect the decision of the Court of Appeals and we assure the public and business community that the palace has not, and will never intervene in the prerogatives of the judicial system."

GMA denies gov't hand in suspension of Central Bank chief

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo dismissed accusations Friday that the Palace was behind the Court of Appeals order suspending Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Rafael Buenaventura.

Pres. Arroyo said in a statement, "We respect the decision of the Court of Appeals and we assure the public and business community that the palace has not, and will never intervene in the prerogatives of the judicial system."

"The stature of the Central Bank as an institution is unsullied," she added.

The CA had earlier imposed a one-year suspension on Buenaventura and Deputy Governor Alberto Reyes for the closure of Urban Bank of the Philippines in April 2000.

BSP officials Maria Dolores Yuvienco, Candon Guerrero and Tomas Aure were also suspended.

However, the BSP said yesterday it will appeal the decision. 


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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