GMA Willing to Meet 3 Ex-Presidents; Revitalized Council of State May Be Discussed - Palace Reunion of Nation's Leaders Seen to Foster Cooperation

Manila Bulletin, November 8, 2007 | Go to article overview

GMA Willing to Meet 3 Ex-Presidents; Revitalized Council of State May Be Discussed - Palace Reunion of Nation's Leaders Seen to Foster Cooperation


Byline: Genalyn D. Kabiling

President Arroyo is willing to attend a summit with her three living predecessors and possibly discuss plans to revitalize the Council of State.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the President welcomes the proposed reunion of past and present Philippine presidents to foster national cooperation and unity in addressing the country's problems.

"I think the President has learned of that and President Arroyo is agreeable if such thing can happen. We just don't know the timing and appropriate preparations," Ermita said in a news conference in the Palace.

"That's a very welcome development because they are our elderly political leaders who have occupied the position of being leaders of this country. Definitely they can be helpful to the present leadership," he added.

Ermita said it was crucial to know the "pulse" of former Presidents Fidel Ramos, Corazon Aquino, and Joseph Estrada if they also wish to attend the meeting.

He said Malacanang would appreciate if the business sector could help organize the summit and determine if the other former leaders could join.

If the three former presidents would agree to attend such a meeting, Ermita said the revitalization of the Council of State, the highest advisory body of the government, could be put high on the agenda.

"That would be a good development that may be agreed upon should the four Presidents meet," he said.

The last time Mrs. Arroyo convened the Council of State was on Jan. 24, 2006.

In Executive Order No. 168 issued in 2006, Mrs. Arroyo reconstituted and revitalized the Council of State to serve as a forum for the exchange of ideas, foster national cooperation, propose meaningful reforms in government, and advise her on matters of public policy.

Under the EO, the President sits as chairman with the following as members: the former presidents, the Vice President, the Senate president, the Speaker of the House, the Senate president pro tempore, the deputy speakers of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, the Senate majority floor leader, the House majority floor leader, the Senate minority floor leader, the House minority floor leader, the Executive Secretary and members of the Cabinet, other members of the Congress designated by the President, the presidents of the League of Provinces, the League of Cities and the League of Municipalities, and representatives from the private sector to be appointed by the President.

****

Palace rejects critics' proposal for snap elections

Malacanang spurned yesterday the latest opposition calls for the conduct of snap elections, saying President Arroyo and Vice President Noli De Castro have mandates to serve until 2010.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the anti-government groups should respect the Constitution and wait for the 2010 elections to elect the next national leaders.

"We have our usual constitutional procedure of how we choose ours leaders through appropriate elections at appropriate time and this is in the Constitution," Ermita said in a news conference in the Palace.

"The President and the Vice President were elected in 2004 and therefore they are serving their term. …

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