Arroyo asks all ministers to quit

Philippines President Gloria Arroyo has asked her entire Cabinet to resign, amid continuing calls for her to quit. 

Mrs Arroyo, who apologised last week for a "lapse of judgement" over a phone call made during last year's election, said she herself would not step down. 

"First of all, I am not resigning my office," she said. 

Mrs Arroyo, who has been accused of trying to unfairly influence her re-election, said a new Cabinet would give her government renewed momentum. 

"I am asking my entire cabinet to tender their resignations in order to give the executive a free hand to reorganize itself," she said. 

She also said that the Philippines' system of government needed to be reformed. 

"The political system that I am part of has degenerated to the point that it needs fundamental change, she said. 

But her move was immediately criticised by opposition Senator Panfilo Lacson, who finished third behind Mrs Arroyo in the May 2004 presidential election. 

"She should be the one to resign, not the members of her cabinet, because she is the cause of political instability," he told DZBB radio. 

Reforms delayed 

Mrs Arroyo's problems stem from a tape recording of a phone call between a woman sounding like her and an election commissioner. 

Mrs Arroyo admitted last week that she phoned an election official during the 2004 poll, but denied trying to rig the poll. 

"I was anxious to protect my votes and during that time had conversations with many people, including a Comelec (commission on elections) official," she said last week. 

"My intent was not to influence the outcome of the election and it did not." 

In addition to the tape recording controversy, the president also faces separate allegations that members of her family took pay-offs from illegal gambling syndicates. 

To try and defuse that controversy, her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo has left the country indefinitely, and is now in the US. 

Mrs Arroyo is also losing popularity due to the poorly performing Philippine economy, and proposed budget reforms. 

Analysts say the political uncertainty may force Mrs Arroyo to scale back her reforms, which she says are needed to improve the government's finances and the economy.

07/07/2005

Bron : BBC News

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