Arroyo had no choice on De la Cruz Ibon

By Norman Bordadora
Inquirer News Service

EMERGING from an election that posed questions on her legitimacy despite her being proclaimed winner by Congress, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had no choice but to agree to the demand of the Iraqi militants threatening to kill Angelo de la Cruz.

This was the perspective aired Thursday by the think-tank Ibon Foundation Inc. in its mid-year analysis of the Philippine political and economic situation. It said the allegations of fraud in the May 10 elections remained unresolved and continued to affect the stability of the Arroyo administration.

"The President is trying to respond because there is instability," said Ibon research director Antonio Tujan Jr. in a news conference.

"If she had a clear mandate, she would say, 'The people elected me because they believed in my [antiterror] agenda and, therefore, I should not face the terrorists anymore." And she would not have made [the decision to pull out the troops]," Tujan added.

Ibon's paper on political instability started off with the failure of the recent elections to stabilize the political situation through a winner with a clear mandate from the electorate.

Thus, Ibon said, the President needed to institute confidence-building measures in order to reach out to the mainstream and political opposition.

Still, Tujan said, Ms Arroyo's response should have been more drastic and more immediate.

"If Angelo de la Cruz is beheaded despite the pullout of the Filipino troops, it would be a case of the President doing too little, too late," he said.

Tujan said the entire Philippine contingent should have been withdrawn from Iraq immediately after the militants aired their demand.

"You have a case that really galvanized the nation...," Tujan said. "She has a weak mandate. If she wanted to transform this issue into a confidence-building measure and strengthen her mandate, she should have done the popular thing even if she didn't believe in it."


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