GMA ASKS FILIPINOS NOT TO LET COUP PLOTTERS RUIN ECO MOMENTUM

MANILA
, February 27, 2006, (STAR) By Paolo Romero and Aurea Calica - President Arroyo appealed to the nation yesterday not to allow coup plotters and destabilizers to destroy the country’s economic momentum.

The President made the appeal even as her officials sought to allay apprehensions of the business community over the imposition of strong measures to curb the outbreak of civil unrest. Addressing the nation towards the end of a roundtable discussion with her economic managers in Malacañang Saturday night, Mrs. Arroyo also renewed her call for unity among the people to allow the country to move forward and compete with its neighbors in economic terms.

"Our economy is doing well so we should not allow these destabilizers and coup plotters to destroy our momentum," Mrs. Arroyo said over state-run NBN-4 television.

"Let’s join hands for the sake of our progress so that much-needed foreign capital will surge into the country," she said.

There should no longer be a repeat of the bloody 1989 coup attempt during the term of former President Corazon Aquino that broke out when the country was experiencing a growth of seven percent, she said.

According to the President, the country has not fully recovered from the violent coup attempt in 1989 that eventually led to a recession in 2001. Mrs. Arroyo also took the opportunity to thank the business community for their support and firmness in helping the people by contributing to the country’s growth despite several attempts to overthrow the government. She cited Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., as an example in its efforts to provide discounts for poor families using LPG.

During the roundtable discussions, Trade Secretary Peter Favila noted the apprehensions of the business community over the declaration of a state of national emergency. Favila, former chairman of the Philippine Stock Exchange, said foreign markets had in fact agreed with the decision of the President to show who is in control of the situation. He claimed receiving calls from foreign and local business leaders as well as from chambers of commerce and industry all over the country expressing their support for the proclamation. Favila stressed the administration remains focused on its economic reform agenda and to keep it insulated from political troubles. He explained the strong measure was necessary to prevent the situation from getting out of hand. Favila also expressed confidence the peso and the markets would rebound once the situation settles down. Favila said Proclamation 1017 was supposed to quell the "clear and present danger" the country is facing. It would have been worse if Mrs. Arroyo failed to act immediately, he said.

"So maybe what really spooked the markets was the attempts to grab power rather than the declaration," Favila said.

The only thing the government has to do is clarify the issues why the President had to declare a state of national emergency. "The absence of an understanding of the merits of the declaration is the problem right now," he pointed out.

"We just to need to make implementing rules and regulations and stop the disinformation. We have to bring the correct information to the business community and the people that this is temporary. We should be able to explain this," Favila said. The trade secretary claimed the proclamation was made precisely to stop the markets from taking a beating.

"This should put in order and save the peso and the markets actually. Even if we impose this for a week, I think our markets are strong enough to carry through," Favila said.

"With the declaration, they know the reform agenda can be carried out and the situation is under control, it will not get out of hand," he said.

Favila claimed the knee jerk reaction of the markets would turn around once the investment community realizes the situation has already stabilized. Favila stressed the proclamation highlighted the government’s resolve in enforcing the law and containing any threats to national security. The business community and the labor sector gave their full support to the President amid another attempt to topple her from power.

In separate statements, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce Inc. (FFCCCI), and the moderate Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), said any effort to destabilize the duly constituted government would be harmful for the country and the economy.

BUSINESS  AS  USUAL  FOR  GMA, ATTENDS  MASS IN  MANILA By Aurea Calica, PHILIPPINE STAR  February 26, 2006

It was business as usual for President Arroyo on a Sunday, as she heard Mass at a church in Ermita, Manila and the country seemed to simmer down despite the state of national emergency she declared before the weekend.

The President heard Mass with her youngest son Dato and his wife Maria Victoria, as the Nuestra Señora de Guia Church on M. H. del Pilar street in Ermita teemed with heavy security.

While Malacañang insists that people can go on with their normal lives despite a state of emergency, Mrs. Arroyo’s movements have been very limited the past days since government said it had foiled a coup on Thursday night.

Citing the "clear and present" danger the country is facing, the President canceled all her activities and stayed in Malacañang most of the time.

The Palace did not want the media to cover the President’s religious foray yesterday but did not insist on driving them away when they got to the church. The President is a devout Catholic.

The priest greeted her and in his homily talked about God’s faithfulness to His children even with all their sins and shortcomings.

After the Holy Communion, the President was approached by a mother and asked if she could take Mrs. Arroyo’s photo with the little daughter she was holding in her arms.

The President obliged and even carried the little girl as the woman took their photo using her cell phone with a camera.

Last Saturday, Mrs. Arroyo only went out of the Palace to attend an entrepreneurs’ event at a mall at Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City, where she received some reassuring cheers from crowds.

The people at the mall appeared unperturbed about recent developments.

Presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor said Malacañang employees might be able to return to work today after operations were suspended on Friday due to the coup threats.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye also said government agencies would remain operational despite the state of emergency.

The President placed the country under a state of emergency citing the threats from the elements of the political opposition that "conspired with authoritarians of the extreme Left" represented by the National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army and the "extreme Right" composed of military adventurists to bring down the government.

Critics described the move as an "overkill" and indicative of a creeping martial law.

Various sectors, including the Church, have urged the government to uphold the rule of law and respect people’s rights despite the declaration of the state of emergency.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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