Bishops pile pressure on Arroyo

Catholic bishops in the Philippines have called for a truth commission to investigate allegations of fraud against President Gloria Arroyo. 

In a critical statement, the bishops said they would not support calls for Ms Arroyo to resign. 

But they urged Ms Arroyo to examine her own conduct and said scandals had rocked public life. 

Ms Arroyo is under growing pressure to resign following allegations of improper conduct during an election. 

"In the spirit of humility and truth, we declare our prayerfully discerned collective decision that we do not demand her resignation," the bishops said at the end of a four-day crisis meeting. 

But the head of the Roman Catholic bishops' conference, Archbishop Fernando Capallo, said the president should pay attention to the calls for her to quit echoing around the country. 

Responsibility 

Philippine bishops backed army-led revolts that toppled leaders in 1986 and 2001.

Ms Arroyo has admitted calling an election official to discuss the election, but denies seeking to influence the vote. 

The president has also been dogged by the fall-out from her recent decision to ask her entire cabinet to quit. 

The BBC's Sarah Toms in Manila says that despite the temporary reprieve, Ms Arroyo is looking isolated. 

Business leaders, civic groups and even a staunch ally, former President Corazon Aquino, have called on Ms Arroyo to make the supreme sacrifice, she adds. 

While she has challenged her opponents to begin impeachment proceedings, the bishops insisted it is Ms Arroyo who needs to take the responsibility for the crisis. 

"[She must] discern deeply to what extent she has contributed to the erosion of effective governance and whether the erosion is so severe as to be irreversible," they said. 

"In her heart she has to make the necessary decision for the sake of the country."

10/07/2005

Bron : BBC News

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