10 Cabinet Officials Resign but Majority

Article excerpt

Byline: GENALYN D. KABILING

Ten members of the Cabinet, including key economic managers, yesterday staged a minor "coup," demanding that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo step down and calling for an end to the political crisis gripping the nation.

The group, led by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, called on President Arroyo to make the "supreme sacrifice" of leaving her office, saying she has lost the moral authority to govern as she has been crippled by the vote rigging scandal.

They asked the President to allow her constitutional successor Vice President Noli de Castro to take over as this would be "the least disruptive and painful option that can swiftly restore normalcy."

Other Cabinet officials who severed ties with the President are Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin, Trade and Industry Secretary Juan Santos, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Education Secretary Florencio Abad, Land Reform Secretary Rene Villa, Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process Teresita Deles, and National Anti-Poverty Commission chairperson Imelda Nicolas.

Two revenue collection officers, Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Guillermo Parayno and Bureau of Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina, also resigned from their posts.

"With deep concern and firm resolve, after a long period of reflection, debate and consultation, we are hereby submitting our collective irrevocable resignation," Purisima said in a prepared statement during a press conference at the Hyatt Hotel.

"The President can be part of the solution to this crisis by making the supreme sacrifice for God and country to voluntarily relinquish her office and allow her constitutional successor, the Vice President, to assume the Presidency," he said.

Purisima, surrounded by his nine colleagues, censured the President for putting her interests above the country, particularly being concerned more about her political survival than economic reforms amid the scandals plaguing her presidency.

They insisted the resignation of Arroyo was "a legitimate constitutional option for effecting leadership change."

"The longer the President stays in office under a cloud of doubt and mistrust, and with her style of decision making, the greater the damage on the economy and the more vulnerable the fragile political situation becomes to extremists seeking to undermine our democratic life," Purisima said.

The breakaway group said they were not making any judgment on the election fraud charges but admitted these have weakened "the ability of our President to continue to lead and govern our country with the trust and confidence of our people."

Purisima, who joined the cabinet from the private sector last year, said the Presidents surprise announcement Thursday evening had preempted their resignations, adding they decided to resign last Tuesday.

"This preemption does not change our conviction that her decisions as of late are guided mainly by her determination to survive as President. We believe that she will continue to make her decisions according to this norm," he said.

Last Thursday, the President declared she would not resign but asked her entire Cabinet to resign to give her the freedom to push economic and political reforms. …