PRESIDENT REMAINS FOCUSED ON GOVERNANCE DESPITE JUETENG PROBE, PLOTS

MALACA—ANG, June 6, 2005 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) Despite the ongoing jueteng investigations and now, the plot to link MalacaŮang to alleged electoral fraud in the 2004 balloting, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains sharply focused on governance and her priority programs, Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye said today.

He said the President views the charges of jueteng payola as serious and they should be investigated, be it by the Senate, the proposed independent commission or any other appropriate agency.

Bunye said in the end Congress will have a big say on what investigative body will conduct the jueteng probe, since under the law it can undertake an investigation in aid of legislation.

"But if Congress agrees to transfer the (jueteng) investigation to an independent commission composed of retired justices, then thereís nothing wrong with that for as long as all parties concerned agree," he said. The President is leaving the decision on the matter to the sound discretion and wisdom of the legislature, he added.

Bunye said the Presidentís standing instruction is: "Let the chips fall where they may."

Exercising her authority under the law, the President has ordered the Department of Justice to conduct its own investigation into the jueteng scandal and to spare no one, he said.

"But having said that," the Palace official said, the President should be spared from further distractions to enable her to concentrate fully on the nationís urgent priorities, including reforming the economy, fighting the twin scourges of poverty and corruption, pushing programs on health, education and uniting the nation.

He said the country must move forward -- the business climate must be transformed to make it conducive to foreign investors, and the Presidentís reform agenda must be pursued if progress for all Filipinos is to be achieved.

He said it is unfortunate that certain political groups have shown unrelenting determination to sow chaos and destabilize the government for their own self interest.

Bunye reminded those plotting against the government that any political upheaval could result in the collapse of the economy, and trigger a string of other problems. "In the end, everybody will suffer."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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