, July 14, 2005
(STAR) (AFP) President Gloria Arroyo, battling for survival amid a political crisis, on Tuesday pledged major changes to a constitutional system which she said had doomed her country to failure.

She made little reference to her own woes but appealed to critics to "listen to the law" and avoid extra-constitutional short cuts to resolving the crisis.

Arroyo pledged to study a recommendation by a group of leading political parties to shift to a parliamentary form of government and away from the presidential system, saying there was a need for fundamental change.

"Over the years, our political system has degenerated to such an extent that it is very difficult to move within the system with hands totally untainted," she said.

"Our country has been left behind by other countries in the region and our best and brightest and the cream of our youth are voting with their feet to leave the country."

The proposal was part of a resolution signed by 19 pro-government and opposition parties, whose leaders met earlier to address the crisis sparked by allegations that Arroyo cheated her way to victory in the May 2004 vote.

Arroyo told House of Representatives Speaker Jose de Venecia, who convened the meeting, that she would "study the ideas contained in the manifesto in the manner of a president listening to the pulse of the people."

The parties called for the "immediate revision of the constitution" and the "complete overhaul" of the official poll watchdog body, the Commission on Elections.

The crisis was triggered by wiretapped audio tapes in which a woman sounding like Arroyo appears to ask a senior election commissioner to give her a one million-vote winning margin.

She has apologized to the nation for improperly calling an election official before the vote count was completed but has denied cheating.

"We believe that the best resolution of the (current) crisis is provided by the present constitution," de Venecia told a news conference, reading from the resolution.

The parties "oppose coup attempts, rebellions or insurrections" as a means to change the leadership.

Army-backed "people power" revolts toppled two previous presidents in 1986 and 2001.

Arroyo appears to have weathered the most serious challenge to her rule, after 10 senior members of her government resigned last Friday and demanded that she step down.

The calls were echoed by respected former president Corazon Arroyo, Senate president and Arroyo ally Franklin Drilon, prominent business groups and many academics. 

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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