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Philippine Protesters Demand Arroyo Resignation

Protesters in the Philippine capital of Manila have demanded the resignation of President Gloria Arroyo two years after she came to rule on the back of a popular movement to oust former leader Joseph Estrada.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo made calls for national unity on Monday, a day marking the second anniversary of her presidency. Ms. Arroyo and other top government officials were attending a Roman Catholic mass while as many as 5,000 protesters gathered nearby. They chanted for Ms. Arroyo to step down, saying she is in office because of people power - not American military power.

The Arroyo government has come under criticism for expanding military cooperation and training exercises with U.S. troops since the U.S. led war on terrorism began more than a year ago.

The demonstrators did scuffle with police around midday. Left-wing legislators leading the protest said they had gathered on the president's invitation to attend the mass. But police said they did not have a rally permit and dispersed the crowd using water cannon.

Ms. Arroyo has announced she will not run for a second term in 2004 elections, citing worries over bitter divides in government. The president says she will devote the rest of her time in office battling corruption and reviving the economy without having to worry about politics.

Ms. Arroyo, backed by the military, assumed the presidency in 2001 during the popular "people power" movement demonstrations which forced then-president Joseph Estrada from office amid corruption allegations.