, March 14, 2006 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor said today initial result of the ongoing revision of the ballots for vice president in Cebu in the 2004 election clearly repudiates well-worn opposition allegations against the legitimacy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo victory in the 2004 polls.

He said that the Presidential Election Tribunal (PET), which is hearing the election protest filed by former Sen. Loren Legarda against Vice President Noli de Castro, has already completed the revision of 40 percent of the 7,744 protested precincts from the province of Cebu and no evidence of election fraud has been noted.

Defensor said that based on the information he obtained from Atty. Romulo Macalintal, except for "some insignificant administrative lapses, the revision reveals no election irregularities committed in Cebu that could materially affect the votes of the President and Vice President Noli de Castro."

Macalintal is the election lawyer of both the President and the Vice President.

"The clear evidence of election fraud manifested in the revision of ballots from the province of Cebu in the ongoing election protest of former Sen. Loren Legarda against Vice President Noli de Castro is the best evidence that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo won fair and square in the 2004 presidential polls," Defensor said.

"Hence, those who cannot resist entertaining some doubts on the legality of President Arroyo’s victory should only look objectively on the election protest of Legarda instead of making a bare and baseless reliance on the alleged "Garci tape" which is even inadmissible in evidence," he added.

Overall, the President won by a 1.2 million vote margin over Fernando Poe Jr. In Cebu province and Cebu City, where the bulk of her winning margin came from, the President won by one million two hundred thousand votes over FPJ.

"To overcome the 1.2 million vote lead of the President, her detractors are trying to discredit the President’s one million vote lead in Cebu, with baseless and speculative arguments despite the fact that based on official reports from Vice President de Castro’s revision at the PET, no hard evidence of fraud and other irregularities had been discovered to invalidate even a single ballot of the President," Defensor said.

Defensor quoted Macalintal as saying that with "Legarda’s apparent failure to prove the massive poll frauds alleged in her protest which were the same allegation in the protest of FPJ and by the opposition, there is likewise no evidence of election frauds that could be charged against the President since the ballots now being revised by the PET are the same ballots used for the presidential elections."

The "results of the physical count of the ballots for Legarda and de Castro tallied with the results reflected in the election returns and tally boards, the same returns and tally boards showing the votes for President Arroyo and her rival in the last election," Macalintal said.

PGMA vows to wipe out residual threats of destabilization

FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija — If there’s one thing that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants to make clear to those wishing to topple the government at all cost, it is that her administration would no longer tolerate chronic destabilization disguised as lawful political action.

In what is seen as her strongest denunciation of those standing in the way of the country’s progress, the President vowed today to wipe out the residual threats of destabilization "with the heaviest arsenal of Constitutional measures" the government can muster.

"The people have suffered enough and I am no longer willing to preside over chronic destabilization disguised as lawful political action," the President said while addressing officers and enlisted personnel of the armed forces in a program here this morning.

Occasion was the ceremonial distribution of land titles to deserving soldiers under the program "Pangkabuhayang Gawad sa Makabagong Army" at the PGMA Fort Magsaysay Village in Sitio Pinaltakan, Barangay Caballero, Palayan City.

"One comprehensive, continuing sweep will deal with rightist coup plotters and leftist insurgents and there will be no longer any ifs or buts about it. The choice is either to keep this nation up and about in its business, or to allow it to wallow and fester under intensive care," she added.

The warning was supposed to be the general order and directive that President Arroyo would be giving to the top ranking officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in a meeting this afternoon.

But, the President decided to make the statement while expressing her gratitude to the loyal military troops who stayed behind the Chain of Command, the Constitution and to their Commander-in-Chief in the midst of the so-called "unholy collaboration" between the rightist military adventurists and communist insurgents.

"I have made the decision to take the Philippines out of sick bay permanently and we will deal with those who stand in the way with the strong hand of the law," she said.

The President noted that the steadiness of the markets amidst political turmoil is a constant signal that even as the government keeps the economy at the forefront of its concerns, it must sustain the clampdown on underground conspiracies "until these are completely mopped up and wiped out."

"A strong economy steered by a strong government is our ticket to a better future," she stressed.

The AFP exposed the critical conspiracy between the rightist Magdalo soldiers and the armed component of the communist rebels in ousting President Arroyo from power during the 20th anniversary celebration of the EDSA People Power 1 revolution last month.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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