FVR CITES NEED FOR UNITY, REITERATES FULL SUPPORT FOR GMA

MANILA, February 1, 2004
(STAR) Former President Fidel V. Ramos has called for national solidarity to push the country forward and take the lead in terms of economic and political stability in Asia.

"We must see ourselves as one team, with one vision to do better than our vigorous and competitive neighbors," Ramos said in a recent television interview.

Ramos also reiterated his full support for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos bid for a full six-year term in the May 10 elections.

"I am not only by her side, Im behind her. Sometimes, Im in front of her when it comes to the international business communities," Ramos said, referring to his frequent trips abroad where he continues to pitch for the Philippines as an investment haven in international forums.

Ramos noted that other countries in the region "are also in bad shape," adding that the Philippines is not the worst. "But that should not be our standard. We should be the best," he stressed.

The former President also batted for the conduct of clean, honest and credible elections for the government to regain the trust and confidence, not only of the Filipinos, but also of the international community.

"The name of the game in our Asia-Pacific region is not intramural politics. It is economic competitiveness," Ramos said.

He recalled that there was a time when the Philippines was leading the economic race in the region. "We were seen as the new tiger cub," Ramos said.

"Now, we are near the tail end," he lamented.

Ramos warned that failure to end the raging political bickering and social divisiveness would lead to a lot of uncertainties. "It could affect the value of the peso continuously. It could kill many of our opportunities for incoming investment," he said.

In the same interview, Ramos also categorically denied any involvement in the no election (No-EL) campaign openly waged by some groups, saying the people behind this move are "misguided" and their proposal smacks of "martial law and a military junta."

Ramos also called on all sectors, including the opposition, to denounce such destabilization efforts to preserve the stability of the country and move the economy forward.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

Copyright, 2003  by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
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