Press Release
January 7, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today viewed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos move to convene the Council of State as another ploy to counteract the incessant clamor for her resignation and to lend a semblance of legitimacy to her administration.

Pimentel said he has no intention of attending the meeting of the Council of State scheduled on Jan. 26. As Senate minority leader, Pimentel is an ex-officio member of the council.

I will not fall for an administration ploy to co-opt the opposition and enable Mrs. Arroyo to buy more time to prevent her ouster, he said.

The minority leader maintained that the country will remain politically and economically unstable as long as President Arroyo is in office because of unresolved doubts over her election to a second term and because of her misuse of the powers of her office.

He said the nations prevailing sentiment for Mrs. Arroyos removal from office is clearly reflected in the Oct. 15-27 Pulse Asia survey showing that six out of every 10 Filipinos wanted her to resign and the last survey of the Social Weather Stations which gave her a negative 30 disapproval rating.

Reacting to reports that even former President Joseph Estrada has been invited by Malacañang to the Council of State meeting, Pimentel cautioned the jailed leader against being hoodwinked by another Palace gimmicks.

He said if Mrs. Arroyo is really sincere in her appeal for national unity and for healing of political wounds, she should have directed government prosecutors to stop objecting to Estradas motion to be granted bail or to be put under house arrest with the Sandiganbayan while the plunder case against him is under trial.

I think the administration is resorting to these moves to pacify the peoples wrath over their disenchantment with the Arroyo leadership and their deteriorating economic condition, he said.

Pimentel also dismissed as wishful thinking the suggestion of certain opposition quarters for an alliance among three former presidents Estrada, Fidel Ramos and Corazon Aquino in seeking the ouster of Mrs. Arroyo and in forming a transition council that will govern the country.

Despite Ramos frequent criticisms of Mrs. Arroyos misdeeds, including her endorsement of the scrapping of the 2007 elections, Pimentel said Mr. Ramos could not be expected to abandon the President because their political fortunes are intertwined with each other.

He suspected that Mr. Ramos, as in previous instances of his tiff with Mrs. Arroyo, may be using their disagreement over the no-election plan, to exact certain concessions or favors from the President.

According to Pimentel, Mr. Ramos recent much-publicized meeting with two prominent Arroyo critics Senate President Franklin Drilon and Sen. Vicente Sotto III was part of Ramos political theaterics to promote his own political agenda.

Instead of creating a transition governing council, Pimentel urged all anti-Arroyo forces to keep up the pressures for the resignation of President Arroyo and the calling of a snap presidential election.

Based on this proposal, Senate President Franklin Drilon will assume the presidency of the republic in case of the resignation of the President, along with Vice President Noli de Castro.

As acting president, Drilon will call a snap election within a period of 45 days after the vacancies in the presidency and vice presidency occurred.

Pimentel, meanwhile, lauded the stand of Mr. Drilon that he is amenable to the call of the Black and White Movement to take over the presidency in case of the resignations of Arroyo and De Castro.

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