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NEWS UPDATES 28 July 2009

Philippines President promises to step down in 2010

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Philippines President Gloria Arroyo said she would step down from the country’s highest public office but without categorically disclosing her political plans after her term ends in 2010, a local daily reported.

President Arroyo, in her ninth and supposedly last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, told a joint session of Congress that prolonging her stay in office had not crossed her mind, said the Manila Times.

And the “state of the nation is a strong economy,” she said. “Good news for our people, bad news for critics. I did not become president to be popular [but] to work, to protect . . . the country, that is why I became President.”

Turning the tables on her critics, the President added, “I have never expressed desire to extend myself beyond my term,” unlike “many of those who accuse me of it [but who] try to cling like nails to their posts.”

She took on her critics and urged aspirants in next year’s presidential elections to tackle issues on how to build the nation rather than on how to tear down their opponents. The May polls will pick her successor.

The 62-year-old president took her oath in 2001 after a bloodless popular revolt unseated then-President Joseph Estrada over allegedly massive corruption. She won a six-year term in the 2004 elections but her popularity plunged after she was linked to vote-rigging, corruption and human-rights abuses.

A Philippine president is limited to one six-year term, but Arroyo, a former vice president, served part of another term after succeeding Joseph Estrada, who was deposed in a 2001 military-backed revolt on corruption charges.

The public has grown anxious when Arroyo’s allies in the House of Representatives adop?ted a resolution to change the 1987 Constitution. The critics warned that the move could be manipulated to prolong her stay in power, an accusation repeatedly denied by the government and pro-administration lawmakers.



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