, February 22, 2006, (MALAYA) PRESIDENT Arroyo yesterday blasted unnamed personalities in the Edsa 1 People Power revolt for alleged politically maneuvering against those who do not agree with their views.

"Political maneuvering has become our most active industry, including people who parlay their presence in Edsa a long time ago into a lifetime franchise of working against governments whose leaders do not curtsy before them," Arroyo said in her speech before the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, asked who the President was referring to, said the concerned people know who they are. Arroyo said she has made several calls for unity and is waiting for those who are willing to accept her invitation.

"But really I have stopped chasing the bully around the schoolyard. And I am working for fundamental political reform so that the divisive elements in our system will be a thing of the past. With a parliamentary system, no more need of coups, no more need to call on the people to go to the streets because the system corrects itself," she said.

Asked if the "bully" she was referring to is President Corazon Aquino who has been calling for Arroyo’s ouster since July last year, the President said she does not want to speak about personalities because she wants a politics of policies.

Arroyo said the world will not accept another people power revolt because it would just give the impression that the Philippines has a "hopelessly unstable" political system and that Filipinos are good at shooting themselves in the foot. Asked what would make her resign, she said: "Nothing." She said Aquino had her share of resignation calls and bloody coups but she did not resign.

"I have a mandate from the people, I have been proclaimed. The Supreme Court has not overturned my proclamation and so therefore I have a term until 2010 and I intend to serve out that term," she said.

She said she won the elections "fair and square" and that the ongoing recount in Cebu on the votes of the vice presidential candidates, which uses the same election returns as the presidential bets, prove it.

Earlier in the morning, Arroyo attended the mass at the Manila Cathedral to kick off the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of People Power 1. She also prayed at the tomb of former Manila Archbishop Cardinal Jaime Sin, which is located a floor below the altar.

In his homily, Manila Cathedral rector Msgr. Nestor Cervo asked Filipinos to support Arroyo and warned against those who advance their own interest at the expense of national interest.

Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, president of the United Opposition, asked Filipinos not to succumb to cynicism and propaganda peddled by the administration.

He said despite efforts of the national leadership to downplay the significance of the 20th Edsa 1 anniversary, it could not conceal the fact that the event is and will always remain one of the proudest moments in country’s history.

Binay said not even the best of the administration’s lies could hide the fact that government is alarmed over the prospect of large gathering that might metamorphose into another people power event.

Various militant and progressive forces trying to oust Arroyo said they will mount a massive protest action to coincide with the anniversary celebration.

Rally organizers said they are aiming to gather some 25,000 people.

Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo said two decades have passed but history has been evasive on the "invaluable" role the progressive movements played in Marcos’ ouster.

"In the so-called official and semi-official histories of People Power and in this year’s 20th anniversary commemoration, there is sadly no mention of the invaluable contributions of the progressive people’s movement whose adherents and leaders fought for the longest time and sacrificed the most in lives, long military detention and other violations of human rights," Ocampo said in a privileged speech Monday night.

Ocampo, one of the countless Leftists jailed and tortured during the Martial Law regime, said there was no mention of the First Quarter Storm that "rocked the foundations of the Marcos regime and the entire corrupt political system in 1970 and in the years preceding the declaration of martial law."

"There is no mention of the many young Filipinos who left kith and kin to serve the people and even offer their lives for freedom under martial law and the dictatorship. There is no mention of the tens of thousands of activists who were jailed without charges, killed, massacred or forcibly disappeared. There is no mention of the victims of massacres and butchery in the villages or during demonstrations in the cities," he said. – Regina Bengco, Ashzel Hachero and Wendell Vigilia


PRESIDENT Arroyo yesterday said she is the best person to lead the nation during the transition to a parliamentary government because of her experience. "I was elected to make difficult decisions and I have made them, not without mistakes on my part and certainly not without significant criticisms, but I have the experience of hindsight and I aim to fulfill my term with a steady hand on the helm," Arroyo told the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.

Arroyo said Charter change is needed to make government more responsive and "less a road block for private enterprise." She said it will also "unchain society" and allow it to grow and prosper. "No more need for coups or sham people power in a parliamentary system. Charter change will create greater political certainty," she said. She said she wants a new Constitution in place by the middle of the year. "The sooner we have the new Constitution and new form of government, the sooner we will be able to move the country forward," she added. She said she believes that charter change will not make her cut short her term which ends in 2010.

Arroyo said she is also determined to continue on the path of economic reform, including modernizing the infrastructure and upgrading the quality of life of Filipinos. She said she is capable of fulfilling her promises now because of fiscal controls, higher revenues and lower debt payments. "We will close the gap between the rich and the poor without widening the budget deficit. The tipping point of fiscal surplus is near. We will use our new revenues to feed our children’s hunger for food and knowledge," she said. She also listed her three-point goal in 2006 which are: to sustain the growth of the economy; accelerate the war against terrorism and fight destabilization and bring peace to Mindanao; and implement the long overdue political reforms through charter change.

The United Opposition said the move of the Arroyo administration to offer Cabinet seats to senators is the latest form of bribery in exchange for their support to Charter change. "Masyado naman silang (administrasyon) desperado yata sa Cha-cha," said House minority leader Francis Escudero, UNO secretary general. "Hindi bibilhin iyan (ng mga senador)," he said. House majority leader Prospero Nograles has said senators are most likely assured of Cabinet posts under the unicameral-parliamentary system. He said Sen. Richard Gordon could be minister of tourism. Rep. Gilbert Remulla (NP, Cavite) said the administration has long been resorting to "dirty" tactics.

"Again, they need to entice senators and congressmen with rewards rather than argue on law and propriety," he said. – Regina Bengco and Wendell Vigilia

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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