Macapagal: I'm running for president in 2004

Posted: 11:44 PM (Manila Time) | Oct. 04, 2003
By Juliet Labog-Javellana
Inquirer News Service

Announcement expected

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga -- The atmosphere was like that of a miting de avance (political rally) in Manila's Plaza Miranda when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Saturday announced her decision to run in 2004.

The announcement she made at the Expo Filipino amphitheater here was expected, but it was preceded by a five-minute display of fireworks and intermittent chants of "GMA! GMA!" by some 40,000 Pampanga folk, composed of senior citizens, youth, multisectoral groups, Cabinet members and public officials.

Later, Housing Secretary Michael Defensor waxed enthusiastic over Ms Macapagal's happiness at declaring that she had "deferred" her retirement and would seek the presidency even if she were "ridiculed" for changing her mind.

"She was very happy with the warmth and enthusiasm of the crowd. She is in a fighting mood," he said.

It was Defensor who incessantly egged the crowd to chant "GMA! GMA!" in the 35,000-capacity amphitheater adorned with red, white and blue balloons and huge banners bearing the message "Run Gloria Run."

"I will sacrifice my personal yearnings for personal quiet and release from the presidential strain and anxiety," Ms Macapagal said in a 35-minute speech. "I will offer myself to the electorate in 2004 as the leader with the experience and vision necessary to change society, achieve economic development and eliminate poverty."

Leonilo Coronel, executive director of the Bankers Association of the Philippines, said Ms Macapagal's announcement was "no surprise."

"The market has expected this," he said.

But the presidents of big business groups expressed relief, saying the announcement would help ease the prevailing uncertainty.

For one, Donald Dee of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines said the public no longer had to engage in a guessing game and would now be able to focus on assessing the individual platforms of presidential aspirants.

Ms Macapagal chose the first Pampanga senior citizens' congress to announce her decision.

Dressed in a white long-sleeved shirt and navy blue pants, she arrived at 3:15 p.m. and was joined by Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., Senator Robert Barbers, Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte (the newly designated president of the ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats party), Pampanga Governor Lito Lapid, and a number of congressmen, local officials and Cabinet members.

From her family, only her elder son, Pampanga Vice Governor Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo, was seen on the stage.


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