Friday, December 21, 2012

Reconciliation Not Resignation -- Estrada

November 9, 2000, The Philippine Star, Reconciliation not resignation -- Estrada,

President Estrada said yesterday his offer of reconciliation to the political opposition and the anti-Estrada groups and not his resignation is the only way out of the political and economic crises gripping the country.

After signing an executive order creating the coconut levy trust fund at Malacañang yesterday, the Chief Executive told reporters "some forces in our society" are busy discrediting him to the detriment of the masses.

"Nevertheless, I have offered to them the hand of reconciliation," he said. "I offered to them a way out, which is to work together. I renew these offers to them for the good of our nation." Mr. Estrada said he is confident he would be vindicated after the Senate terminates the impeachment trial with his acquittal if the proceedings reach that point.

"I will prove wrong those who have put their personal and political interests above the interests of our country in demanding my ouster and fomenting political and economic instability," he said. The President said the administration's efforts to improve the country's economy are being sidetracked by "some sectors" so they could immediately seize power.

On the other hand, the President is wooing leaders of the Catholic Church to join the "National Day of Prayer and Fasting" on Saturday, Malacañang said yesterday. Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora and Presidential Adviser on Flagship Projects Secretary Robert Aventajado Jr. told reporters yesterday the prayer rally is intended for the unity of Filipinos and not to boost the popularity of Mr. Estrada.

Meanwhile, Bro. Mike Velarde, spiritual leader of the Catholic fellowship El Shaddai, told reporters yesterday he has "no comment" to a statement of Robert de Castro, secretary general of the militant church organization Promotion of Church People's Response, that he is a "false prophet."

Earlier, De Castro called Velarde "a religio-political opportunist" who is misleading El Shaddai members into "supporting the un-Christian and satanic policies and programs" of Mr. Estrada. "No amount of miracle will prevent the eventual downfall of (President) Estrada," he said. "Not even the fake miraculous prayer and rituals of the pseudo and false prophet Mike Velarde. (He) is a divisive tool of Estrada against the Roman Catholic Church and the public."

De Castro described Saturday's prayer rally as a "cheap and desperate Marcos-style political gimmick of Estrada" to project that the people still support him. On another front, Laguna Gov. Joey Lina, president of the League of Governors, will lead 25 provincial governors and 13 Metro Manila mayors in calling for President Estrada's resignation during the "Welga ng Mamamayan" tomorrow.

Pastor "Boy" Saycon, secretary general of the Council on Philippine Affairs, told reporters yesterday the 25 governors and 13 mayors will be joined in the rally by leaders of labor federations and affiliated groups from all over the country.

"We expect about half a million workers (public and private), students, and other groups to join the rally, which will be a prelude to a bigger rally to oust (President) Estrada," he said. Saycon said the second rally will involve the stoppage of air, sea, and land transportation nationwide, and that seaports and airports will be closed to passengers and cargoes, with only perishable goods to be allowed in.

Saycon said major land transport groups have already signaled their intention to join the planned protest to stop work and paralyze transportation operations in the country. At the Archdiocese of Manila, the Presbyteral Council headed by Jaime Cardinal Sin urged the media in a statement yesterday not to allow themselves to be used to hide the truth or distract people from the truth.

"The issue is morality in public office," read the statement. "The issue is the immorality of the highest political leader of the nation. Let us stay focused not so much on the opinions and statement we hear but more on what the Lord wants us to do." Sin said that in the Old Testament and the Catholic Church's history, "the prophets who call on people to change will be presented as the criminals and the guilty, the innocent ones."

Since the time the Presbyteral Council of the Archdiocese of Manila issued the call to the faithful, entitled "On the Way of Truth," so many events have transpired in the country, he added. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 labor unions are preparing for a nationwide walkout and work stoppage on Nov. 14 to pressure Mr. Estrada to step down. Victor Briz, an official of the Buklurang Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), told reporters yesterday their union and affiliate organizations are mobilizing more than 1,000 labor unions for the planned general strike.

"The planned mass walkout of workers would serve as a prelude to a crippling nationwide industrial week the following week or until (President) Estrada finally steps down from Malacañang," he said. Meanwhile, militant groups led by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) demanded yesterday that the President be criminally prosecuted if he resigns.

At a press conference, KMU chairman Crispin Beltran said Mr. Estrada should not be allowed to "negotiate his way out," and that he should be made accountable for all the charges hurled against him. "(President) Estrada should not be allowed to go the way of deposed dictator (Ferdinand) Marcos who escaped effective prosecution by striking deals and settlements," he said.

Beltran issued the statement following reports that Malacañang officials are now negotiating with former President Corazon Aquino and other opposition leaders for President Estrada's graceful exit. Briz said the BMP's urban poor allies and the multisectoral Sanlakas are now soliciting the support of other sectors for a big mass action in Ayala Avenue in Makati.

Simultaneous rallies will also take place in Southern Tagalog, Iloilo, Bacolod City, Cebu, and Iligan City, he added. On the other hand, party-list Rep. Renato Magtubo, who is also secretary general of Sanlakas, urged workers to stand up and let their voices be heard. "Cease all hesitance," he said. "Now is the moment for the powerful voice of the workers to be heard," he said. – Marichu Villanueva, Sandy Araneta, Mayen Jaymalin, Jaime Laude, and Benjie Villa

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