MANILA, January 21, 2005 (STAR) By Marichu Villanueva - President Arroyo assured the Filipino people yesterday that there is no reason to worry that the rumored destabilization attempts to topple her administration could lead to another EDSA people power revolt.

Instead of dwelling on unfounded fears, the President exhorted Filipinos to muster "people power" for unity behind her administration.

Hopefully, she said, there would be no more EDSA-like events to institute changes in the government.

Mrs. Arroyo made these impassioned appeals on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the second EDSA uprising that ousted former President Joseph Estrada and swept her into power.

The President aired her EDSA II anniversary message on Iglesia ni Cristo (INC)-run Net 25 cable television. In brief, Mrs. Arroyo said that persistent talks about alleged new destabilization plots against the government are not based on actual threats. She assured the people that intelligence authorities were on top of the security situation.

At Malacañang, Mrs. Arroyo’s spokesman Ignacio Bunye issued an official statement denying fresh rumors of military adventurism purportedly brewing another EDSA uprising.

"The lessons our soldiers have learned from failed coup attempts have made them realize that their participation in such destabilization moves has become pointless and worthless for it just serves the interest of a disgruntled few rather than that of the people and the nation," Bunye said.

"A professional and loyal military stands firm in guarding the Constitution," he said.

Mrs. Arroyo did away with the festivities to celebrate the EDSA II anniversary, usually held at the EDSA Shrine along Ortigas Avenue in Mandaluyong City, and instead made the rounds of urban poor communities in Metro Manila and held dialogues with the poor.

She dubbed the activity her "De Soto Tour," named after Peruvian socio-economist Dr. Hernando de Soto whom she commissioned to come up with an anti-poverty program for the Philippines.

She disclosed that De Soto is visiting the Philippines again before April to give his report and recommendations for the anti-poverty programs her administration would pursue in the next six years.

Speaking before urban poor residents at the Welfareville Compound in Mandaluyong City, Mrs. Arroyo reiterated her vow to pursue "urgent changes" this year to achieve the Filipinos’ "fervent hope" for a better life.

She promised to set aside 29 hectares of idle government lands owned by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, occupied by some 18,000 informal settler families, for the government’s socialized housing project for the poor.

She told squatter families they would have a chance to own a house and lot under a 50-year lease contract that would be partly funded by the city government of Mandaluyong headed by Mayor Neptali Gonzales Jr.

Following the "De Soto principle," Mrs. Arroyo explained that the project’s beneficiaries would be given land titles which they could use as collateral to borrow capital and start their own livelihood.

Monthly amortization will not exceed P1,500 a month.

"We need a new people power and that is unity. We must do (things) together to improve the lives of our people," she said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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