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Monthly Archives: January 2006

Our issue for January 28, 2006

PHILIPPINES FREE PRESS

January 28, 2006 Issue

Main Features

1.Cover: Police Director General Arturo Lomibao (with 8-page Philippine National Police supplement)

2. You Don’t Have the Final Say

Now it’s coming straight from her. President Arroyo, addressing the Lakas-CMD national directorate meeting in Malacañang, says she is not stepping down until her term expires in 2010. She will be there even after the shift to parliamentary government and she will have more, not less, powers. That’s the decision of the party—dictated to be sure by Malacañang. Former president Fidel Ramos has not said anything since the Saturday meeting, but he has already made known his stand on the matter: Mrs. Arroyo must cut her term in June next year to clear the way for the transition to parliamentary government after the amendment of the Constitution. He has distributed to news organizations copies of Mrs. Arroyo’s political adviser, Gabriel Claudio, who has misled the press into believing that Ramos has agreed that Mrs. Arroyo should finish her supposed term. In his marginal notes Ramos says that no “win-win? solution has been found to his differences with Malacañang’ position and that he holds following the Palace’s plan is just maintaining the “status quo?—four more years of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, that is, four more years of political instability arising from the question of the legitimacy of Mrs. Arroyo’s rule. In an interview on television Ramos asks, “Can the economy stand it?? The economy can pull through with great difficulty, as it has always done. What may not be able to hold is the Arroyo administration. Its strategy of scrapping next year’s midterm elections—which has turned out to be Speaker Jose de Venecia’s idea to save Lakas from annihilation, maintain Mrs. Arroyo’s support base in the local governments, and persuade opponents of constitutional amendments in Congress—is threatening to explode in its own face, with even Mrs. Arroyo’s fiercest supporters in the Senate, Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Richard Gordon, fighting it and insisting on leaving the Constitution alone, and junior military officers asking whether the people are willing to endure four more years of Mrs. Arroyo. As things stand in the Senate, whatever the Palace and Lakas have agreed to do to buy time for Mrs. Arroyo is nothing—the Senate will be the final battleground in the administration’s attempt to change the system of government. The Senate expects that den of traditional politicians, the House of Representatives, to raise the questions of the congressional vote on amending the Constitution and the people’s initiative to the Supreme Court, now dominated by Mrs. Arroyo’s appointees (9-4), but the senators believe the Court will not risk embarrassing itself by siding with the House or with the administation.

By Ricky S. Torre and Wendell Vigilia
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Our issue for January 21, 2006

PHILIPPINES FREE PRESS

January 21, 2006 Issue

Main Features

1.Cover: Lung Center of the Philippines Anniversary (with 8-page full-color supplement)

2. Step Down, He Says

“I said this is what should be done, but it’s not being done,? former president Fidel Ramos tells reporters in a news conference on Monday. What is it that he has told President Arroyo she should do to avoid being forced from office? Step down and run in parliamentary elections. If she is elected, very well. If she loses the election, that’s it. She’s out. But Mrs. Arroyo has cheated him. Sure, she is pressing for the amendment of the Constitution to allow a shift to parliamentary government, but she is insisting on staying in power even after the shift. And who’s behind this proposal of the Consultative Commission, which she appointed, to cancel next year’s midterm elections? That cannot be the commission’s own initiative. Dissenters in the commission say the people never recommended the cancellation and they do not even want the Constitution to be amended. They want to elect new officials. So this proposal is suspect. Mrs. Arroyo knows the elections will not go the way of her administration, so the elections must be scrapped. The sharp politician that is Ramos has quickly understood it and now he says he doesn’t like “this woman? anymore. He has been meeting with political leaders, including leaders in the religious sector, for some vague project that involves “people empowerment and global competitiveness.? His most recent meeting, with Senate President Franklin Drilon and former senator Vicente Sotto III, and talk from the camp of Joseph Estrada that the opposition is working out a joining of forces among Ramos, former president Corazon Aquino and the ousted president has set off alarms in Malacañang. Mrs. Arroyo is bringing in new political strategists, a move disguised as a Cabinet reorganization, and is calling the Council of State to a meeting set for January 24 and is inviting Ramos, Mrs. Aquino, but not anymore Estrada after the ousted president has said he, being the legitimate president, wants to preside over the meeting. Mrs. Aquino hasn’t said anything, but Ramos says he will go to the meeting. He says he still supports Mrs. Arroyo but his support is diminishing. He insists on his proposal that Mrs. Arroyo step down by 2007. Her making clear to the nation that she will relinquish power can help bring calm and stability as the nation waits for the elections. But that’s out of the question for Mrs. Arroyo. So what exactly is he doing? The opposition in the House of Representatives says the matter of unity among the three former presidents has been mentioned in a meeting last month, but just mentioned. There is no pursuit of that matter as a priority. Drilon has not yet spoken about what he, Sotto and Ramos talked about and Ramos, in his news conference Monday, is talking only about his own disappointment with Mrs. Arroyo. Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. believes Ramos is out for a bigger role in Mrs. Arroyo’s government and the opposition should not trust him. In Mrs. Arroyo’s government or in a new, parliamentary government?

By Ricky S. Torre, Wendell Vigilia and Butch Serrano
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Our issue for January 14, 2006

PHILIPPINES FREE PRESS

January 14, 2006 Issue

Main Features

1. Cover: The Worst Is Yet to Come

“The worst is over,? Palace officials say about President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s surviving in office in 2005. As Mrs. Arroyo gropes for a new groove, claiming credit for the continuing strength of the peso and insisting that is a sign of investor confidence in her government, the officials predict political stability and economic recovery this year and appeal for a truce with the opposition. But politicians, businessmen and clergy see this year as a continuation of 2005 for the Arroyo administration, with the President’s political troubles getting worse as she continues to resist resolving the question of her rule’s legitimacy. Malacañang’s rushing the amendment of the Constitution, with a plebiscite on the amendments early this year, and the proposed cancellation of next year’s midterm elections are raising even more suspicion that Mrs. Arroyo intends to stay in power whether the people like it or not. And if that is really the case, Malacañang should quit saying the worst is over because in fact the worst is yet to come.
By Ricky S. Torre
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