Clark (Philippines), Oct. 4 (Reuters): Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said today she would seek a fresh term as President next May, reversing course after vowing not to stand and ending months of speculation about her plans.
In a speech to tens of thousands of supporters at the Clark special economic zone, Arroyo said she had changed her mind because the political unity she had hoped to achieve by her December pledge not to stand had not lasted.
“I have deferred my retirement,” Arroyo told her supporters at the former US air base in her home province of Pampanga. “I will offer myself to the electorate in 2004.”
“I will offer myself as the leader with the experience and vision necessary to change society, to achieve economic development and eliminate poverty,” she said. Her announcement is likely to accelerate political manoeuvring ahead of elections in one of Asia’s most turbulent democracies, where personality tends to count more than parties or policies.
Expectation she would stand had apparently prompted desertions from the ruling party in recent days, including by vice-president Teofisto Guingona, who quit the Lakas party yesterday saying he was disappointed with Arroyo’s record on reform.