PRESIDENT ARROYO REMAINS FOCUSED ON GOVERNANCE - ERMITA

MANILA, July 8, 2005
(OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains focused on governance and has no plans to abandon her post or leave Malacanang to hie off to a place where she could escape from all the political noise being created by her detractors.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said in a press conference this afternoon the Chief Executive went on with her work schedule today and "it is back to normal" in the Palace.

Presidential Political Adviser Gabriel Claudio said the President met with the Executive Committee of the ruling Lakas-CMD party and "she is in an upbeat mood."

"She was listening intently and was responsive to the suggestions of the group, which she appreciated very much," Claudio said.

In the face of the current political instability, Claudio added, the President has "a sense of equanimity, a sense of balance and calm."

This can also be gleaned from her immediate action to designate officers-in- charge within hours of the "irrevocable" resignations yesterday of 10 Cabinet officials so as to avoid disruptions in the operations of the vacated positions.

Ermita also said the Chief Executive continues preparing her State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) which she will deliver on July 25, when Congress formally reopens its regular session.

Earlier, the President assured the Filipino people that she will "continue to focus on the people’s business, getting our economy moving and creating better quality of life…," which are among the goals of her 10-point legacy agenda.

She also said that she would announce the composition of her new Cabinet "within the next couple of days."

Political noise confined to Metro Manila -- Ermita

Malacañang said today the present "political noise" created by detractors of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is confined to Metro Manila, and does not represent the sentiments of the vast majority of the Filipino people.

"I’m hoping that the reporting of the support by our countrymen outside Metro Manila could be given equal treatment," Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said in a press conference in Malacañang this afternoon.

There are numerous pledges of support for the President from political leaders, local executives, the business sector and the civil society all over the country "that are not written about," Ermita complained.

"The Filipino nation is not composed of the people in Metro Manila or Luzon only. We have to hear the sentiments of the people in the Visayas and Mindanao," he added.

Ermita said if it were possible to gather in Manila people from the Visayas and Mindanao who are fully supportive of the President, "we would know the real ‘snowballing’ national sentiment."

The Malacañang official was reacting to media reports on "snowballing" calls for the President’s resignation.

PGMA determined to defend Constitution, rule of law -- Bunye

Malacañang said today President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is determined to defend the Constitution and the rule of law and ensure that the welfare of the people will not be undermined by the current political instability.

Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye said that while the President "feels saddened and betrayed" by the members of her Cabinet who resigned and then publicly demanded her resignation, "life must go on."

"The President feels saddened and betrayed that those Cabinet members whom she considered as trusted and loyal friends were the first ones to abandon her at a time she needed them most," Bunye said.

Bunye was referring to resigned Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Education Secretary Florencio Abad, Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin, Trade Secretary Juan Santos and Agrarian Secretary Rene Villa.

The group also included Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles, National Anti-Poverty Commission Chair Imelda Nicolas, Internal Revenue Commissioner Guillermo Parayno and Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina.

They announced their resignation in a press conference Friday at the Hyatt Hotel, hours after the President asked her entire Cabinet to tender their resignation in order to give her a free hand to reorganize her official family.

In a separate statement addressed to the "Hyatt Group," Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo described as a sad testimony to "our politics that on the basis of illegal recordings, which may have also been manipulated by the opposition, an elected leader is being pressured to quit, and elections widely seen as generally clean are cast in doubt."

"No investigation has been done, no charges laid and proven, yet public trust is severely damaged, and guilt is imputed on officials who should be presumed innocent until proven guilty," Saludo said.

He said the "nation’s concerns about these matters have to be addressed," but unless the President’s "culpability is determined through the constitutionally mandated processes, it would be a violation of democratic principles and due process for her to relinquish her sworn duties to the nation."

"Such a perversion of our politics would only be more damaging to the nation than the period of uncertainty while constitutional processes are followed to determine the President’s innocence or guilt," Saludo said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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