, January 26, 2006, (MALAYA) ‘Change should be constitutional’ - WHILE reiterating that President Arroyo should go, preferably by resigning, President Corazon Aquino yesterday said a change in leadership should be carried out peacefully and in accordance with the Constitution.

"I am against the use of physical violence. I still support the constitutional process. Ayoko ng coup d’état. I myself experienced the pain it caused our people and it set back our economy. So I’m against any use of violence or force," said Aquino, whose administration was subject of several military coups.

Aquino celebrated her 73rd birthday yesterday with indigent-beneficiaries of a micro-finance loan program in Las Piñas.

She said the use of violence to unseat Arroyo would only cause more pain at a time when the country could not afford to have one.

She said there is a clear need to address the still unresolved issue of the 2004 presidential election before the country can move on and compete with neighboring nations.

President Arroyo is accused of cheating in the May 2004 elections to ensure her victory.

"Hindi pa nareresolba ang halalan ng 2004. Yun pa yata ang hinihintay din ng nakakarami sa ating mama-mayang Pilipino. Sana malaman na natin ang katotohanan," she said.

Aquino also said elections should be held as scheduled in 2007.

The Consultative Commission created by Arroyo to look into proposals to amend the Constitution has proposed the scrapping of the 2007 elections in the transition to a parliamentary form of government.

Most participants in Tuesday’s Council of State meeting called by Arroyo rejected the proposed scrapping of the elections.

Aquino, Senate President Franklin Drilon, who has also called for Arroyo’s resignation, and opposition leaders did not attend the meeting.

Aquino reiterated her stand that trust should be in place before any form of reconciliation, like the council meeting, could be held.

Asked what her birthday wish is, Aquino said she hopes for a better life for the Filipinos, especially the poor. She said she will lead the way for another "people power" but this time to eliminate poverty in the land.

"People Power should not just be confined to political rallies. People Power is about people helping each other and making life better for our fellow Filipinos," said Aquino, who rose to the presidency through "People Power 1" that ousted President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

"I hope a better life for all Filipinos, of course, most especially for the poor and that is why I decided to come here to celebrated my birthday in order to give recognition to CARD (Center for Rural and Agricultural Development) which gives poor people the chance to better their lives by lending them money and engaging in livelihood," she said.

More than 2,000 indigent residents of Las Piñas were able to avail of micro-finance loans from CARD.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippine will continue to "search for the truth" when it holds its 92nd Plenary at Pope Pius along UN avenue, Manila, said Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz.

The meeting of more than 120 bishops is set January 28 to 30.

"As far as the truth is concerned I don’t think we have found it yet," he said.

The CBCP, at the height of calls for Arroyo’s ouster in July last year, came out with a statement saying it would not join the bandwagon.

But they asked Arroyo to "discern deeply on what extent she might have contributed to the erosion of effective governance and whether the erosion is so severe as to be irreversible."

Cruz said issues like the legitimacy of Arroyo’s presidency have not been answered.

"We are still not certain of such things," he said.

Cruz said since July last year, they have closely monitoring the activities of the President and in their plenary they will asses her achievements. – Ashzel Hachero and Francis Cueto

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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