3, 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 43 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK
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'I Am Deeply Saddened'
Ramos on the crisis facing the country
She Ready: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo rallies the opposition
When Fidel Ramos talks or acts, Filipinos take note. During the 1986 People
Power revolution, Ramos, then armed forces vice chief of staff, dropped
his support for his cousin Ferdinand Marcos, leading to the strongman's
ouster. After Joseph Estrada became president in 1998, Ramos was one of
his top advisers. Now he is calling for Estrada to be impeached. Whatever
happens, Ramos is back in the political game. When he isn't running his
foundation or traveling to promote the Philippines as an investor and
tourist destination, he is trying to raise people's consciousness about
the excesses of the Estrada regime through public appearances and provincial
sorties. As chairman emeritus of the Lakas opposition coalition, he is
helping Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo build up the party prior
to next May's congressional and local elections. Ramos's own presidency
was far from ideal, but during his time the country was stable, peaceful
and respected, and business confidence was high. On Oct. 25 Asiaweek's
Antonio Lopez caught up with Ramos, 72, to discuss the current crisis
and how the country can get out of it. Excerpts:
I am deeply saddened by the reverses suffered by the country. The
president should call a meeting of core groups of leaders regardless
of political affiliation to help tackle the nation's multifarious
critical problems. Faultfinding and finger-pointing will not solve
our people's urgent concerns.
being behind an alleged plot against Estrada
I vigorously deny being involved, much less behind the current crisis
facing the Estrada government. I will not demolish what I helped
to put together.
the possibility of a military coup taking place
Very slim. The idealistic young colonels are not there anymore.
They have become senators, entrepreneurs or been trying to make
a living peacefully.
I want impeachment. It affords the president the time to explain
his position and provides him a graceful exit. If in the process
he resigns, that's a bonus. [As it is], he may be exonerated or
acquitted of the charges against him.
The best chance for the opposition is to coalesce as a broad front
of parties against the administration party. If there is no united
front of opposition parties, then [we] will be handing over to the
[current] administration party the leadership of the country for
the next three or four presidential elections . . . Gloria can unite
the opposition. I am convinced she will make a good president.
what Estrada should do
Fire his cronies. Restore the dignity of the presidency. It has
become a laughing stock. Estrada should not foment class war and
call one group of society walang kuwenta [useless] and elite while
addressing the masa [masses]. We should get our act together so
that we are again looked upon with respect by the outside community.
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November 30, 2000