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Palace: Federalism critics all have 2010 ambitions
« on: August 13, 2008, 08:27:21 PM »
MANILA, Philippines -- Malacañang on Wednesday said those who suspect President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's proposal to amend the Constitution to allow for a federal form of government is a tactic to extend her term are those who have ambitions to run in the 2010 elections.

But while saying this, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita was non-committal when asked if the Palace would prevent its allies from inserting, in the Senate joint resolution calling for federalism, provisions that would pave the way for no elections in 2010 or the extension of Arroyo’s term.

"I would rather not answer such a scenario that could lead to further discussion na baka lumabas na merong plano na ganun [no elections or term extension] kasi ang tanong ay kung may allies na mag [because it may emerge that there is such a plan because the question is whether there are allies who will] push for this. I would rather not react on that, makagugulo lang sa usapan [it will only muddle the discussion]," he told reporters in his weekly news conference.

Ermita singled out senators who want to run for president in 2010 for "jumping the gun" with their accusations the push for federalism is a ploy to extend Arroyo’s term.

"Hindi natin mapag-aalis na may naghahangad naman na tumakbo [sa] pagka-pangulo ay galing Senado, kaya siguro sila ang medyo nagre-react dito, lalong-lalo na sila ay may hangarin [We cannot deny that those seeking to run for president are from the Senate, which is maybe why they are reacting to this, especially since they have ambitions]," he said.

"Wala naman tayong naririnig sa ibang sector, sa Lower House, sa ibang grupo, kaya ang aking lang masasabi hintayin natin ang katotohanan. Kung minsan sabi nga [We do not hear anything from other sectors, from the Lower House, other groups, which is why all I can say is let us wait for the truth. Sometimes they say] if we are blinded by some bias ay napakahirap tanggalin ang [it is so hard to remove the] blinder," Ermita added.

On Tuesday, Arroyo reiterated her call for federalism by expressing support for Senate Resolution No. 10, which seeks to establish 11 federal states in the country by amending the Constitution through a constituent assembly.

The Palace has said that the creation of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), which will take the form of a federal state and which is seen as one of the last major hurdles to forging peace with secessionist rebels in Mindanao, will need amendments to the Constitution.

Reacting to accusations Arroyo’s call was a ploy to extend her term, Ermita said her support for federalism was just an "announcement of facts" since she openly advocated this in the past.

He also read excerpts from her past speeches in which she explicitly mentioned stepping down in 2010.

In her March 26 statement at the Philippine Development Forum in Clark, Pampanga, Arroyo said, "The best thing we can do for the remainder of my term until I step down 2010 is to stay focused on further economic reforms while providing peace, order and stability."

"Susunod ako sa Saligang Batas at sa sarili kong nais na bumaba sa pwesto pagwakas ng aking termino. Masasabi ko sa inyo nang walang pasubali na bababa ako sa pwesto pagtapos ng aking panunungkulan sa [I will obey the Constitution and my personal desire to step down from my post when my term ends. I can tell you without reservation that I will step down when my term ends in] 2010,” she said in another speech in February.

"Sa palagay ko naman ay di tatalikuran ni Pangulong Arroyo ang kanyang mga nasabi na sa ibang okasyon na bababa sya sa pwesto sa katapusan ng kanyang termino sa [In my opinion, President Arroyo will not go back on what she said on other occasions that she will step down from her post at the end of her term in] 2010," Ermita said.

Ermita said Arroyo "is not saying she will give a vigorous push" to the Senate resolution, but added that they are hoping Congress would act on it over the next two years, especially if it would enhance the peace process in Mindanao.(

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