Allies of Arroyo call on her to step down: NYTimes Jul 9, 2005 3:18:53 GMT -5
Post by Moses on Jul 9, 2005 3:18:53 GMT -5
July 9, 2005
Allies of Philippine President Call on Her to Step Down
By CARLOS H. CONDE
MANILA, Saturday, July 9 - The political crisis facing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took a major turn on Friday when influential allies, including 10 of her departing cabinet officials and the former president, Corazón Aquino, called on her to step down.
The turnaround by her former supporters makes a resignation by Mrs. Arroyo more likely in the wake of accusations that she rigged the 2004 presidential election by conferring with an election commissioner, officials and analysts said.
Mrs. Arroyo reacted to snowballing calls for her resignation by asserting Friday that she would not leave office. "I was duly elected to uphold the Constitution and ensure that the institutions of the nation were strengthened not weakened," she said in a radio broadcast.
Those who want her to step down are "undermining our democratic principles" and "subverting the rule of law," Mrs. Arroyo said. She also advised her critics to "take your grievances to Congress," where, she said, she would be willing to face the accusations against her.
Mrs. Aquino, who played a role in the "people power" uprisings in 1986 and 2001, went on television Friday to ask Mrs. Arroyo to resign. "I ask the president, in all humility and with full awareness of its difficulty and pain, to make this supreme sacrifice to spare our country from the violence that threatens it," she said.
The 10 cabinet officials announced their resignations on Friday but said they had decided to leave their posts as early as Tuesday, having concluded that Mrs. Arroyo could no longer govern effectively under the cloud of scandal. When Mrs. Arroyo learned about the planned mass resignations, she pre-empted them by announcing Thursday night that she had ordered her whole cabinet to resign.
There has been concern here in the past month that the crisis could spin out of control, providing an opportunity for rightist elements to attempt a coup d'état.
Thousands of anti-Arroyo protesters began gathering in Manila and other parts of the country late on Friday afternoon. Organizers said they would hold an "indefinite vigil" until Mrs. Arroyo stepped down.
Roman Catholic bishops are expected to express their views over the weekend, which could be crucial in influencing public opinion and the president's course of action.
Former President Fidel Ramos, who led the mutiny in 1986 that led to the downfall of Ferdinand E. Marcos, gave his support to Mrs. Arroyo on Friday, as have many of the country's mayors and governors, who have gone so far as to vow to secede from the republic if she were to be removed unconstitutionally.
Mrs. Arroyo apologized to the country for what she called a "lapse in judgment" by consulting with an election official. But instead of placating Filipinos, the apology opened her to more resentment because, to many, she was not repentant enough.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company