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Arroyo Says She Will Not be Driven from Office Like her Predecessors


Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has vowed to complete her term of office, warning that neither a popular revolt nor a military coup will drive her from power early. Her declaration came on the 20th anniversary of the People Power "revolt" that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

Speaking to foreign correspondents Tuesday, President Arroyo made her position clear. She said she is the elected leader of her people, and she will remain in office until her term ends in 2010.

"I am the best person to lead this nation through this transition," Arroyo said. "I was elected to make difficult decisions and I have made them. Not without mistakes on my part and certainly not without significant criticism, but I have the experience of hindsight, and I aim to fulfill my term with a steady hand on the helm."

Mrs. Arroyo survived an attempt to impeach her last September on charges of corruption and vote-rigging. There have been ongoing calls for her resignation since, from both the opposition and one-time supporters such as former President Corazon Aquino. There have been numerous rumors of coup plots against her.

Coup rumors increased in the past week as the anniversary approached. The "People Power" movement is also referred to as the EDSA revolution, after the highway where huge crowds gathered to demand President Ferdinand Marcos's departure in 1986. Crowds pouring onto EDSA in 2001 also drove President Joseph Estrada from office.

President Arroyo says it won't happen a third time.

"The world embraced EDSA 1 in 1986," she said. "The world tolerated EDSA 2 in 2001. The world will not forgive an EDSA 3, but instead would condemn the Philippines as a country whose political system is hopelessly unstable, and the Filipinos as among the finest people in the world, but who manage to shoot themselves in the foot."

She also said that rogue military officers would not succeed in plotting against here because most of the army and police remain loyal. Shortly before she spoke, the military recaptured a second soldier who escaped last month while facing charges of leading a failed coup in 2003. Three other soldiers accused in that plot remain at large.

President Arroyo repeated her call for a constitutional change to install a parliamentary system. She says this would bring increased stability, and there would be, in her words, "no more need for coups, or sham 'people power.'"

However, the idea is opposed by a large number groups, including the powerful Roman Catholic bishops, in part because the proposal would lead to the canceling of the 2007 congressional elections.

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