Philippine army lifts alert, Arroyo under pressure

  • World
  • Thursday, 16 Jun 2005

By Manny Mogato

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippine military lifted a seven-day security alert on Thursday, saying the threat of plots to oust President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had faded. 

But Arroyo was still under pressure to break her silence about wiretapped recordings that the opposition says proves she tried to cheat in last year's national elections. 

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo looks on before speaking at the launch of the second Philippines progress report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Manila June 16, 2005. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif)

A group of retired generals called on the president to resign over the allegations, which came hot on the heels of accusations her family members took payoffs from illegal gambling. 

"For the sake of national survival, we are appealing to the president to resign to pave the way for real change under our consititution," said Ramon Montano, a retired general and a former political ally of Arroyo. 

"We are asking every Filipino to join us in our appeal." 

Montano heads a group of retired generals loyal to former President Fidel Ramos. 

The government has said the recording was doctored as a plot by the opposition, but lower house lawmakers have called on Arroyo to give evidence at an inquiry set for next week. 

Her spokesman said on Thursday she would not comment on the recordings. 

Arroyo said in a speech at the presidential palace that she intended to serve her full six-year term through to 2010. 

"For four long years, the agents of destabilisation have acted to bring down the economic edifice we are building," she said. 

"For four long years, I have taken personal abuse in the hope that reconciliation will bring national harmony. They have tried again and this time they have gone too far." 

Polls show that Arroyo is the most unloved leader since dictator Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown in 1986, but analysts say she probably has enough support from the Catholic Church and the army to survive the current scandals. 

"I guess there are no more destabilisation threats," Captain Ramon Zagala told reporters. "We have recalled all our troops. A number had been allowed to spend time with their families." 

Last week, hundreds of soldiers, backed by armoured vehicles, fanned out across the capital to guard against protests called by the opposition amid rumours of plots to oust Arroyo. 

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