GMA ONLY KIDDING ON CHEATING COMMENT - BUNYE

MANILA
, August 1, 2005
(STAR) By Aurea Calica - Joke only.

Malacañang said yesterday President Arroyo was only kidding when she mentioned during a radio interview that she could have been cheated in last year’s elections.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye made this clarification as the media played up the President’s comments which were made over radio station dzRH Friday morning.

"Biro lamang po iyon, dahil ang sabi nga po doon sa survey, dapat nanalo siya by a bigger margin — eight percent yata po doon sa isang popular survey, but iyong actual margin ay three percent. But, nagbibiro lamang po ang ating Pangulo (It was only a joke, because according to a survey, she should have won by a bigger margin — maybe eight percent — but the actual margin was only three percent. But the President was only kidding)," Bunye said.

Considering Mrs. Arroyo faces impeachment charges over alleged cheating in the 2004 presidential race, the joke appears to have backfired.

The President said in her interview that dzRH had conducted its own exit survey after the voting on May 10, 2004 and, based on that, she supposedly had an eight-percent margin of victory.

"Although I won only, finally, by three percent. So ang ibig sabihin noon, baka ako pa ang nadaya (So that means I could have been the one cheated). So in other words, whatever is the percentage, lahat ng exit surveys, sinabi ako ang nanalo (all exit surveys said I was the one who won)," Mrs. Arroyo said.

"Kaya ako ang pangulo at yan ay paninindigan ko (And that is how I became president and I will stand by that)," she added.

Mrs. Arroyo is facing an impeachment complaint filed by members of the opposition before the House of Representatives over alleged cheating in last year’s polls. The opposition has presented as evidence audio CD recordings detailing alleged conversations between Mrs. Arroyo and an election official, widely believed to be then commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, about fixing the results of the vote.

The President has denied any vote-rigging and said she will prove her innocence at the proper time. She explained she could not discuss the controversial recordings upon the advice of her lawyers.

Mrs. Arroyo has been touring media outfits in an effort to explain her side of the story, to talk about her administration’s achievements and to campaign for her proposed Charter change through constituent assembly.

She vowed to work harder to earn back the people’s trust as she bewailed the supposed "trial by publicity" conducted against her and her family. She is also fending off allegations that her husband, eldest son and brother-in-law received payoffs from operators of the illegal numbers game jueteng.

The President said she had a right to defend herself and protect democracy in a country fast deteriorating into a state of "anarchy" due to the unabated attacks by her detractors.

She said even the rights of the President have been trampled upon and she must be heard by the people as well.

GMA's inclusion in Forbes' list is in recognition of leadership, achievements: Palace 07/30 5:05:18 PM

Malacañang said Saturday the inclusion of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the Forbes magazine’s top 10 ranking of the world’s most powerful women could be attributed to her achievements and qualities as a leader.

The Philippine President ranks No. 4 on the latest list of the world’s 100 most powerful women compiled by Forbes magazine and published Friday.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is on top of the list, followed by China’s Vice Premier Wu Yi and Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in that order.

"President Arroyo has humbly taken note of this accolade which comes from a very prestigious international magazine. It was a pleasant surprise," Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye said in a statement.

In an earlier radio interview this morning, Bunye said the President’s landing fourth on the Forbes magazine’s list could be viewed as a recognition of her qualities as a leader and achievements, particularly in driving the country’s economic growth up to 6.1 percent last year, despite adversities.

The President herself, asked how she felt about making it anew in the prestigious listing, said in a live television interview Friday evening, "power should be used to serve the interest of the people.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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