Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo – President of the Philippines


Confusion and
Politics in the

mistresses, and alias bank accounts are some of the reasons Filipinos ousted
past President Joseph Estrada.  But then again, according to Estrada, he
wasn’t ousted – he just stepped down for a bit and Arroyo is temporarily
filling the position.  The current President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was
sworn in by the Philippine Chief Justice after the Supreme Court declared the
presidential position vacant this January.  But Estrada is appealing to
that very same Supreme Court saying that he never officially resigned. 
It is his hope that Arroyo will be declared an “acting” not
“permanent” president and he will be reinstated.  Even though
the Philippine political future is uncertain, the truth is that Arroyo has
taken office in a time of extreme difficulty for the Philippine people and for
her role as president.  President Arroyo seems to be a person with a
strong desire to unite the Philippine people and lead them by example. 
As the daughter of the late President Diosdedo Macapagal, she has a good start
because of the example her parents set for her.   Even with their
example of integrity, she will still have to make a great effort to achieve
her goals.  Political change does not come without some difficulty, but
without difficulty there is not much change. Our hope for the Philippines is
for there to be great political and economic success in this century.

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Sketch on Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

The President of the Philippines,
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, holds many records.  Elected as Senator during her
first try in politics in 1992, she was re-elected Senator in 1995 with nearly 16
million votes, the highest number of votes in Philippine history.  She was
elected Vice President of the Philippines in 1998 with almost 13 million votes,
the largest mandate in the history of Presidential or Vice Presidential
elections.  She was sworn in as the 14th President of the Philippines on
January 20, 2001 by Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. after the Supreme Court
unanimously declared the position of President vacant, the second woman to be
swept into the Presidency by a peaceful People Power revolution. (EDSA II).

The President is the daughter of
the late President and Mrs. Diosdedo Macapagal, who were well known for their
integrity and simple but dignified lifestyle.  During the Presidency of
Diosdado Macapagal, the Philippines was second only to Japan in economic
progress in Asia.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
was valedictorian of her high school class at Assumption Convent, was
consistently on the Dean’s List in Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.,
and graduated magna cum laude at Assumption College.  She obtained a
Master’s degree in Economics from the Ateneo de Manila University and a
doctorate degree in Economics from the University of the Philippines.

Macapagal-Arroyo joined the
Philippine government in 1986 during the Administration of President Corazon
C. Aquino, who appointed her Undersecretary of Trade and Industry. 
During her tenure in the Senate, she authored 55 laws on economic and social
reform and was named outstanding Senator several times.  When she was
elected Vice President, President Joseph Estrada appointed her as concurrent
Secretary of Social Welfare and Development, a post she held until her
resignation from the Cabinet on October 12, 2000.

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JANUARY 20, 2001

In all humility, I accept the
Presidency of the Republic.

I do so with both trepidation and
a sense of awe.

Trepidation, because it is now,
as the Good Book says, a time to heal and a time to build.  The task is
formidable, so I pray that we will all be one — one in our priorities, one in
our values and commitments, and one because of Edsa 2001.

A sense of awe, because the
Filipino has done it again on the hallowed ground of Edsa.

People Power and the oneness of
will and vision have made a new beginning possible.  I cannot but recall at
this point, therefore, Ninoy Aquino’s words:

“I have carefully weighed
the virtues and the faults of the Filipino, and I have come to the conclusion
that he is worth dying for.”

As we break from the past in our
quest for the new Philippines, the unity, the Filipino’s sense of history, and
his unshakeable faith in the Almighty that prevailed in Edsa ’86 and Edsa 2001
will continue to guide and inspire us.

I am certain the Filipinos of
unborn generations will look back with pride to Edsa 2001, just as we look back
with pride to Mactan, the Katipunan and other revolts, Bataan and Corregidor ,
and Edsa ’86.

I am certain that pride will
reign supreme as they recall the heroism and sacrifices and prayers of Jaime
Cardinal Sin, former Presidens Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos, the legislators
who fought the good fight in Congress, the leaders whose principles were beyond
negotiation, the witnesses in the impeachment trial who did not count the cost
of testifying, the youth and students who walked out of their classes to be here
at Edsa, the generals in the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police,
and the Filipino out there who stood up to be counted in these troubled times.

The Filipino, crises and all, is
truly worth

living and dying for.

Ngunit saan tayo tutungo mula

Jose Rizal, the first to
articulate self-determination in a free society, provides the answer.

Rizal counseled the Filipino to
lead a life of commitment,  “He must think national, go beyond

“A stone is worthless,”
Rizal wrote, “if it is not part of an edifice.”

We are the stones, and the
Philippines is our edifice.

On many occasions, I have given
my views on what our program of government should be.  This is not the time
or place to repeat them all.  However, I can tell you that they converge on
four core beliefs.

1.  We must be bold in our
national ambitions, so that our challenge must be that within this decade, we
will win the fight against poverty.

2.  We must improve moral
standards in government and society, in order to provide a strong foundation
for good governance.

3.  We must change the
character of our politics, in order create fertile ground for true
reforms.  Our politics of personality and patronage must give way to a
new politics of party programs and process of dialogue with the people.

4.  Finally, I believe in
leadership by example.  We should promote solid traits such as work ethic
and a dignified lifestyle, matching action to rhetoric, performing rather than

The first of my core beliefs
pertains to the elimination of poverty.  This is our unfinished business
from the past.  It dates back to the creation of our Republic, whose seeds
were sown in the revolution launched in 1896 by the plebian Andres Bonifacio. 
It was an unfinished revolution, for to this day, poverty remains our national
problem.  We need to complete what Andres Bonifacio began. The ultimate
solution to poverty has both a political and an economic aspect.

Let me first talk about the
political aspect.

In doing so, I will refer to one
of my core beliefs, that of the need for new politics.  Politics and
political power as traditionally practiced and used in the Philippines are among
the roots of the social and economic inequities that characterize our national
problems.  Thus, to achieve true reforms, we need to outgrow our
traditional brand of politics based on patronage and personality. 
Traditional politics is the politics of the status quo.  It is a structural
part of our problem.

We need to promote a new politics
of true party programs and platforms, of an institutional process of dialogue
with our citizenry.  This new politics is the politics of genuine
reform.  It is a structural part of the solution.

We have long accepted the need to
level the playing field in business and economics.  Now, we must accept the
need to level the playing field in politics as well.  We have long aspired
to be a world class economy.  Now, we must also aspire to develop a world
class political system, one in tune with the 21st Century.

The world of the 21st Century
that our youth will inherit is truly a new economy, where relentless forces such
as capital market flows and advances in information and communications
technology create both peril and opportunity.

To tap the opportunities, we need
an economic philosophy of transparency and private enterprise, for these are the
catalysts that nurture the entrepreneurial spirit to be globally competitive.

To extend the opportunities to
our rural countryside, we must create a modernized and socially equitable
agricultural sector.

To address the perils, we must
give a social bias to balance our economic development, and these are embodied
in safety nets for sectors affected by globalization, and safeguards for our

To ensure that our gains are not
dissipated through corruption, we must improve moral standards.  As we do
so, we create fertile ground for good governance based on a sound moral
foundation, a philosophy of transparency, and an ethic of effective

Considering the divisions of
today, our commitment will entail a lot of sacrifices among us all, as we work
to restore the dignity and pre-eminence of the Filipino.

Join me, therefore, as we begin
to tear down the walls that divide.  Let us build an edifice of peace,
progress and economic stability.

People Power has dramatized the
Filipino’s capacity for greatness.

People of People Power, I ask for
your support and prayers.  Together, we will light the healing and
cleansing flame.

This we owe to the
Philippines.  This we own to every Filipino.

Thank you and may the Good Lord
bless us all.

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Biographical sketch and
Inauguration speech provided by the Philippine Consulate.


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