MANILA, June 11, 2005
(STAR) By Aurea Calica - Malacañang denied yesterday that June 13 was declared a holiday to quell any mass actions against the Arroyo administration amid the jueteng scandal and allegations of cheating in the last elections.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the government was implementing the usual holiday economics to give people more time to be with their families and go out of town to boost local tourism.

"This is not without precedent," he said. "There have been occasions when Monday was declared a non-working day because Sunday was a holiday."

The most recent non-working Monday was last May 2, after Labor Day (May 1) fell on a Sunday.

Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. had earlier said the next few days could be difficult for the nation due to the jueteng exposés and the scandal revolving around audio recordings in which President Arroyo supposedly discussed ways to rig the May 2004 elections with an election official.

De Venecia noted the "reported movements of those who seek to destabilize the government threaten the very existence of democratic institutions, including Congress."

The next few days would thus be "difficult moments for our country and people," he added,

However, Bunye said that, so far, these were just rumors that should be ignored.

"You know the less we talk about the rumors, the better for all of us because these rumors are negative and would not be of help to us," he said. "What we should do is go on with our regular jobs and be productive."

Earlier, Bunye said June 13 would not be declared a non-working day due to some complaints from businessmen, although those in the tourism business would benefit from it.

Bunye said the June 12 Independence Day celebrations would also proceed as usual, and that one of the highlights would be the tourism-related float parade featuring the country’s scenic spots.

De Venecia, for his part, said he had been trying to muster political and popular support for the beleaguered Arroyo administration.

"As you and I have been victims in the past of extra-constitutional moves and extra-legal actions that resulted in the closure of Congress, let us not take this threat idly," he said.

"We must make a ringing declaration to our people that we will oppose any extra-constitutional and extra-legal means to bring down the government.

"I have been meeting with Church and civil society leaders and political leaders to consolidate support for the President and defuse this tense situation," De Venecia said.

Mrs. Arroyo was also set to meet with her Lakas Christian-Muslim Democrats partymates led by De Venecia last night.

One Lakas source said part of the agenda would be discussions on how to blunt a plan by congressmen belonging to militant party-list groups to file an impeachment complaint against Mrs. Arroyo.

The House is dominated by the President’s allies, some of whom have said any impeachment petition against her would be "dead on arrival."

Malacañang had issued Proclamation No. 856 declaring Monday, June 13, as a special non-working day nationwide.

The proclamation, dated June 9, was signed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, by authority of the President.

It states that as the commemoration of Independence Day (June 12) this year falls on a Sunday, the following day may be declared as a special non-working day pursuant to existing laws, rules and regulations.

Independence Day is observed as a regular holiday on June 12 of each year to commemorate the "heroism and self-sacrifice of our forefathers in the struggle for national independence."

Proclamation 856 provides that all activities and celebrations related to Independence Day shall be observed on Sunday, June 12.

The Department of Labor and Employment has been directed to issue the appropriate guidelines on the implementation of the proclamation.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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