1.5 MILLION  STRONG  LOCAL  EXECUTIVES  SET  TO  RALLY  BEHIND  MRS.  ARROYO

MANILA, June 8, 2005 (STAR) By Aurea Calica - Local executives vowed yesterday to hold their own "people power" action to counter alleged orchestrated moves to bring down the government of President Arroyo through the jueteng scandal and allegations of cheating in the 2004 elections.

Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone, spokesman for the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), said they would hold a "national summit for unity" on June 11 at Manila Hotel to voice out their support for Mrs. Arroyo.

Evardone said this was the initiative of the 1.5-million strong local executives — from governor, vice governor, board members, mayors, councilors and barangay officials nationwide.

Bohol Gov. Erico Aumentado, president of LPP and ULAP, reiterated they would not join groups asking them to support moves to overthrow the President.

Aumentado said they could not agree to a "raffle" of names of possible replacements for top government leaders, either. He had earlier bared the name of a certain Vicente Concepcion and a group called KASAMA that was recruiting local leaders to join the destabilization moves.

Evardone and Aumentado said they voluntarily went to Malacañang to hold a press conference in which they explained to the opposition that they could not count on local leaders to join destabilization attempts.

"We are not so much alarmed, but this is a cause of concern for every right-thinking Filipino, especially for us who are the front-liners in the delivery of essential services to our people. We don’t want instability, we don’t want any undermining the government because that would affect our governance in the countryside," Aumentado said.

Evardone said the local authorities were "99.9 percent behind the duly constituted government."

"I think that a segment of the opposition is trying to whip up a scenario that would trigger an uprising and eventually dislodge this government," he said.

"The local chief executives are solidly behind the government. We will launch our own peaceful but united, dedicated, firm version of people power on June 11 to call all sectors to unite, and disregard all forms of destabilization and disinformation because the scenario in the localities is different from what’s happening at the national level," Evardone said.

"So if there is a plan by a segment of the opposition to come up with ‘people power 4’ for June 25, I think they cannot count on support of local chief executives. We just had an election, I think the opposition should not rush in trying to get into power again. We must respect the democratically elected officials from national down to local levels."

He appealed to the public not to be swayed by the opposition tactics to smear the Arroyo government and bring it down.

"The bottom line is our people in the small villages are tired of too much politicking. It is about time we set aside politics, all forms of intrigues, disinformation and other forms of destabilization," he said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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