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Arroyo Calls for End to Partisan Politics - 2003-08-21

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has called for an end to partisan politics in a bid to bring stability to the country after last month's military uprising.

Barely a month after a military rebellion, President Gloria Arroyo is calling for an end to politicking, which she says has hampered the nation's return to stability and development. She says the nation must not to be distracted from the tasks of eliminating poverty and ending terrorism, crime and corruption.

Ms. Arroyo's comments come as opposition politicians accuse her husband of laundering millions of dollars in campaign funds overseas. Jose Miguel Arroyo has rejected the allegation as politically motivated ahead of elections in May. Mr. Arroyo challenges his critics to prove the charges in court.

The problem of government corruption was highlighted during the military rebellion on July 27, when more than three-hundred young soldiers stormed a commercial complex protesting graft in the military. At the end of the 19-hour standoff, Ms. Arroyo promised to investigate the soldiers' allegations.

But the probe has focused on the mutiny's alleged mastermind - opposition Senator Gregorio Honasan. Officials say Mr. Honasan plotted to oust Ms. Arroyo, possibly assassinate her and install a military junta.

On Wednesday, 10 soldiers offered to testify against the senator to avoid prosecution. Mr. Honasan, who led coup attempts in the late 1980's and who has made public his desire to run for president, has been in hiding since the mutiny.

Financial analysts say the rebellion has eroded investor confidence in the Philippines. Thursday, the peso plunged to a new two-year low of 55.25 to the U.S. dollar. Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho expressed concern that the currency is falling too fast and acknowledged that political concerns following the failed mutiny are partly to blame.