MANILA, March 23, 2004  (STAR) President Arroyo warned yesterday of a "disaster" if Filipinos vote for "another actor" as president on May 10.

"Because the first time around was a mistake, the second time around will be a disaster," she said.

"Look what happened during the previous administration, it only created half a million jobs because there is no confidence of investors in government. So they did not invest," the Chief Executive said.

Speaking at the Carigara town hall in Leyte yesterday, Mrs. Arroyo said the Filipino people must show their political maturity before the international community as investors might pull out of the country if they see a "new and inexperienced" leader replacing her.

"If people will not learn to rely on somebody with experience, that’s an issue to investors," she said.

"They will determine first whether people will vote for somebody with experience or the one with no experience."

Mrs. Arroyo said "mudslinging" by the opposition, including Poe’s camp, has "spooked" financial markets and pulled down the peso to a "historic low" of 56.450 to $1 last Monday.

Mrs. Arroyo said her administration has been able to create more than three million jobs in the "short period of time" since she took over the government from President Joseph Estrada on Jan. 20, 2001, following a military-backed civilian uprising.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Arroyo denied in a statement from Malacañang yesterday allegations that she has been using funds from the government’s anti-poverty program to boost her bid for a full six-year term.

"The opposition is deploying all forms of harassment to prevent this administration from serving the average Filipinos," read the statement.

"The opposition is seeking ways to impede health care, employment, and the delivery of clean water. The opposition wants to deprive the poor of services just for the sake of politics.

"Is this the kind of leadership they are offering the people? I will not stop serving the public because this is urgent business, and I am forsworn to do it."

Mrs. Arroyo said the other presidential candidates must present their platforms of government in a "high-level campaign" instead of engaging in political mudslinging and black propaganda. – Marichu Villanueva

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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