, August 2, 2005

Next 5 months hell for GMA’ By Marvin Sy The Philippine Star 08/02/2005

An ally of President Arroyo warned her yesterday "to prepare for hell over the next five months" as critics take their best shots in removing her from office.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said she agreed with the recent report of investment bank Bear Stearns & Co., Inc., which predicted that the President had a 65 to 75 percent chance of finishing her term if she survives the present political turmoil until January 2006.

"I agree and I warn that in the next five months President Arroyo’s political enemies will try every dirty trick in the book to unseat her before New Year," Santiago said.

"What this says to the opposition on the basis of this investment bank’s report is that they must try and destroy President Arroyo in the next five months or forever keep their peace," she said.

"To pillory her," Santiago predicted that the anti-Arroyo movement will attack relentlessly using "fake polls, telephone banks, e-mails, anonymous letters, automatic dialing of untraceable hate messages, phony front groups, radio and TV talk show call-ins," among other things.

Since the July 8 resignation of several of Mrs. Arroyo’s Cabinet members and the withdrawal of support by key members of the Liberal Party led by Senate President Franklin Drilon, the President has been asked to resign or face impeachment due to charges that she cheated her way to victory in the May 2004 election and that her family members supposedly benefited from jueteng payola.

A number of rallies were held in Makati City by the political opposition calling for the President’s resignation. Even former President Corazon Aquino asked her to step down.

"This political poison drip will saturate our country until December for five months of slaughterhouse politics," Santiago said. Santiago said she was speaking from experience after losing the 1992 presidential election which, to this day, she insists was tainted by fraud.

She noted that she became a victim of political attacks when she refused to concede to the winner, Fidel Ramos.

"I was further victimized after I opted for impeachment rather than resignation as an option in the 2001 Estrada case," she said, referring to the predecessor of Mrs. Arroyo whose impeachment trial came to an abrupt end when prosecutors dramatically walked out, eventually leading to a military-backed revolt that ousted him. Estrada is now being tried for plunder before the anti-graft court.

"President Arroyo’s enemies are operating below the radar, that is why media does not name them. But Malacañang knows who they are," Santiago added.

For his part, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., who has been leading calls for Mrs. Arroyo’s resignation, advised her anew to heed the public’s clamor for her to quit instead of trying to mislead the public by launching a "public relations or charm offensive."

"She is resorting to all conceivable strategies in the hope of fending off moves to unseat her from office. As a people, Filipinos are by nature considerate and perhaps she expects us to say, ‘Why don’t we give her a chance to finish what she has started?’ But let us not be deceived by this ploy. All of these are intended to serve the interest of Gloria and not the interest of the nation," Pimentel said.

"The appeals to her conscience, as the Catholic bishops want her to do, will not work when you have a President who is concerned only with her hold on power," he added.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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