Accessibility links

Philippine President Scrambles as Supporters Abandon Her in Droves


Gloria Arroyo

Philippines President Gloria Arroyo, under mounting pressure from political allies to resign amid allegations of election fraud, was forced by events to deny in a special statement Friday that she would be leaving office.

President Arroyo's statement Friday came after a day of non-stop political blows to her leadership. One by one, Mrs. Arroyo's former allies stepped forward and called on her to resign.

In a special statement to the nation late Friday afternoon, she repeated that she would not resign, despite allegations she cheated in last year's election.

"Work with me away from political bickerings to do what the Filipino people want their leaders to do," said Gloria Arroyo. "And that is to get the economy moving and ensure the delivery of essential services."

Former president Corazon Aquino, a political ally, had earlier been one of those urging Mrs. Arroyo to make the "supreme sacrifice," and step down.

"The country cannot continue in this present tumultuous state," said Corazon Aquino. "Good and effective government has become an impossible undertaking."

Speaker Jose de Venecia, a close political ally, said Friday a majority of congress and local government officials remain loyal to Mrs. Arroyo, and are ready to work with her on political and economic reforms. But his was a lonely voice.

The calls to resign came one after another Friday. The Liberal Party, an ally, asked for her resignation. Eight cabinet secretaries left her government and demanded that she step down as well. A major business group echoed the call.

The crisis, sparked by secret recordings of a telephone conversation between Mrs. Arroyo and a senior election official during last year's vote counting, has divided and paralyzed the country. Mrs. Arroyo, who won the poll by a narrow margin, apologized for the conversation, but denied she cheated her way to victory.

Politicians and political analysts say she is on shaky ground. Over the past few days, she has also lost support from church organizations, while a military-linked group has raised the idea of establishing a "transitional revolutionary" government in her place.

There are those who caution against repeatedly forcing legitimately elected leaders from office. In the last 19 years, mass protests have driven out two Philippine presidents accused of corruption.

Senator Manuel Villar, part of the ruling coalition, urged fellow politicians and the public to follow legal means in resolving the crisis.

"We should not be led by siren songs of shortcuts for snap elections, for revolutionary constitutional governments, of experimenting on solutions outside the constitutional framework," said Manuel Villar.

So far, there have been limited street demonstrations in the capital, Manila. Police and the military have been placed on high alert, and the military has been ordered to stay out of politics.

XS
SM
MD
LG