GMA Blames Politics for Peso Fall; Appeals to Public to Shun Negativism, Assures Reforms

Article excerpt

Byline: GENALYN D. KABILING

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo yesterday blamed the political mudslinging and moves to destabilize the government for the extended slide of the peso against the dollar.

"The unfortunate brew of destabilization and partisan politics has affected the performance of our peso," she said in a statement after peso remained weak against the greenback, hitting a low of P55.60.

The President was apparently referring to security and political concerns arising from the recent July 27 failed military rebellion and the latest corruption controversy implicating her husband, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

Ms. Macapagal appealed to the public to shun "creeping negativism" as she assured her government was working to implement reforms and restore stability.

"Much is being done to achieve normalcy and consolidate our gains in law and order but more can be gained if our institutions close ranks behind a serious drive for productivity, reforms and stability," she said.

Arroyo likewise asked the public to dismiss the "distraction of day-to-day controversies" and devote energies "to the essential tasks of development and reform."

"We must shun creeping negativism and look towards the gains of the future. The Filipino has the mind, the courage, and the solidarity to do it," she said.

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye appealed to market players to refrain from speculating against the peso, saying their move could aggravate the situation.

"We should take measures to help our own currency by avoiding too much speculation," he said in an interview with Radyo ng Bayan.

The downfall of the peso came amid the corruption allegations of Sen. Panfilo Lacson against the First Gentleman who has denied the charges, and challenged the lawmaker to bring the case in court instead of hiding under the cloak of parliamentary immunity.

Last month, the government quelled the mutiny of some 300 rebel soldiers who took over part of Makati City and demanded the resignations of Ms. Macapagal and her top military officials. The rebellion ended in 22 hours after failing to gain public support.

The peso weakened versus the US dollar following reports of a stronger economic recovery in the United States. Monetary authorities are prepared to sell dollars in the open market to stem the slide of the peso.

Pimentel

Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) said yesterday President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's appeal for doing away with excessive politics will remain empty unless she herself sets the example in carrying out this policy.

Pimentel said he has no quarrel with the President's concern that partisan politics is distracting the country from the urgent task of curbing poverty, corruption, terrorism and crime.

"Good advice. But she should take it too. It will not do good for her to advise others to do less politicking while she herself does everything that smacks of politicking," he said.

Pimentel stressed that the anti-graft campaign should be above politics as he challenged the Chief Executive to make good on her pledge that there should be no sacred cows or untouchables in rooting out bureaucratic corruption.

He warned that failure to prosecute grafters because of their closeness to the Palace or their political affiliation with the President would only erode her credibility and trustworthiness.

"If the President is serious in fighting corruption, she can start by purging her Cabinet of non-performers and grafters," Pimentel said.

Peso weakens further

The value of the peso against the US dollar has further weakened yesterday to an intra-day low of P55.60, flirting near the historic-low of P55.75 registered on Jan. 17, 2001.

However, it recovered to close at a rate of P55.45 as demand from offshore market slightly ebbed, manifested by the 50 percent drop in the premium over the spot value to 20 centavos. …