MANILA, SEPTEMBER 14, 2008 (STAR) There is no reason to entertain the idea of President Arroyo imposing emergency rule as a response to hostilities with armed groups in Mindanao, Presidential Management Staff director general Cerge Remonde said in an interview over dzRB yesterday.

Remonde said that the warning aired by former Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. of the President imposing emergency rule was baseless.

“This administration has faced a number of problems in the past, but the President has never resorted to such a policy in dealing with these problems,” he said.

He added that the other warning issued by Cruz on Charter change before the 2010 elections was also “misplaced” as he reiterated that the administration would not do anything for its own benefit.

“It is clear that if it (Charter change) could be done now, it can be effective after 2010. It would not benefit the incumbent,” he explained.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said that Cruz’s fears were his alone.

“His departure from President Arroyo’s Cabinet when he was asked by the President to move out of his post more than two years ago are instructive factors to understand his negative take of the situation today,” Dureza said.

Cruz resigned as Defense Secretary in November 2006 for reasons that were not clear, he added.

His departure from the Cabinet was seen by many as a result of his disagreements with the administration over various issues, including the amendment of the Constitution through People’s Initiative.

He is a partner in the Villaraza, Cruz, Marcelo & Angangco law firm, which used to have President Arroyo among its clients.

Remonde appealed to the political opposition and to former Cabinet members of the Arroyo administration to work with the government for the stability of the country.

Reps. Antonio Cerilles of Zamboanga del Sur and Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan, both allies of the President in the House of Representatives, called Cruz an alarmist for broaching the idea of the President imposing emergency rule for the clashes in Mindanao.

“It is unbecoming for a former high government official like him to be an alarmist,” said Cerilles, chairman of the House committee on special land use. “He should take it from us Mindanaoans that the situation is under control in our region.”

“He’s been out of the DND post for so many months now and obviously he has been out of touch with the reality in Mindanao because of his return to civilian life,” he added.

Alvarado suggested that “instead of agitating the people with his baseless forecast, Cruz should propagate statements of hope for the resolution of hostilities in Mindanao.”

“The times call for unity and sobriety as all sectors, including the Church, government and the people, are united in calling for peace in Mindanao,” she said. – Marvin Sy, Delon Porcalla

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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