Saturday, July 30, 2005

London Attack Update

AP Photo Man Admits Role in Failed London Attack
In this photo made available by Italian police, a man identified as Somali-born Osman Hussain, a naturalized British citizen believed to be one of the four suspects in the July 21 bombing attempts in London, is seen after he was arrested in Rome Friday July 29, 2005. (AP Photo/Italian police)

CNN Update on GloriaGate

 The days of "people power" uprisings to remove Philippine leaders are over, scandal-plagued President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said Friday, reiterating that only a shift to a parliamentary system can stop the country's democracy from sliding into anarchy.

In a third day of interviews with local media, Arroyo -- facing impeachment -- lamented being subjected to trial by media over charges that she rigged last year's election and that her family took bribes.

"If we do not address this finally, our politics will deteriorate," she told DZRH radio. "Imagine if we have president after president being toppled, president after president being tried by publicity, president after president being impeached."

In her state of the nation address on Monday, Arroyo signaled the start of "the great debate on charter change" to shift to a parliamentary system. Such a move would fuse the legislative and executive branches of government and help stop gridlocks caused by quarrels between the president and the U.S.-style bicameral Congress, Arroyo said.

"While Myanmar is trying to strengthen its democracy, our democracy is weakening and turning into anarchy," she said. "We have to strengthen our democracy. In the past it was said that something is wrong with the system. But now it has become so wrong that the system itself is wrong."

Arroyo is embroiled in her worst political crisis since taking power after massive protests ousted President Joseph Estrada in 2001. In 1986, a "people power" revolt toppled late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

She has apologized for speaking to an election official before she was declared the winner of the May 2004 ballot, but denied manipulating the count. She said she's ready to face an impeachment trial.

Some members of her own Cabinet, business groups, activist organizations, the political opposition and ex-President Corazon Aquino, a former ally, have demanded her resignation. Tens of thousands have joined street protests, but the crowds have only been a fraction of the size of those in 1986 and 2001.

Opposition lawmakers on Monday filed an impeachment complaint against Arroyo for allegedly violating the constitution, betraying public trust, corruption and bribery. They urged her to resign to avoid a painful Senate trial, claiming they have plenty of witnesses and piles of documentary evidence to bring her down.

Arroyo only touched on the latest allegations against her: that regional election officials received 2 million pesos (US$35,700; euro29,500) in bribes to rig the polls, in her presence in a hotel room.

"No one has given any bribe in my presence, that's all I can say," she said. "But enough said because I am an accused and I should heed the advice of my lawyers not to speak about the charges against me."

Arroyo earlier asked her husband and son to leave the country after they were both accused of receiving illegal gambling payoffs, along with her brother-in-law.

She said her 37th wedding anniversary on Tuesday would be sad without her husband.

"I did not become a president to enjoy," she said. "You must be prepared to suffer if necessary."