Philippine President Arroyo apologizes for election flap but says she would not step down

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo apologized Monday for talking with an election official about her hopes for a million-vote margin in last year's ballot, but said she did nothing wrong and declined to resign.

It was the first time she directly admitted, that she had phone conversations with a top election official, but Arroyo did not explicitly confirm that it was her voice on the recording. She said: “I was anxious to protect my votes and I had conversations with many people, including an election official. My intent was not to influence the outcome of the elections and it did not,” report Financial Times.

According to AP, in a nationally televised speech, Arroyo appealed for unity as she addressed the three-week-old political crisis over the wiretapped phone chat that has sparked calls for her to resign with five years left in her term.

Arroyo recognized that making any such call “was a lapse in judgment.” She also said, she regretted “taking so long to speak on this matter.” Nevertheless, Arroyo promised to “redouble her efforts to serve the nation and earn its trust,” more than that, she declared that she wanted “to close this chapter and move on with the business of governing.” Which means that she is still going to rule despite street protests staged by the opposition and leftist groups. However, admits AP, the demonstrations haven't matched the huge "people power" protests that led to the downfalls of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Arroyo's predecessor, former President Joseph Estrada, in 2001.

The opposition also accuses Arroyo's son and brother-in-law of taking payoffs from illegal gambling.

A lawyer critical of the government, Oliver Lozano, filed an impeachment complaint against Arroyo at the House of Representatives on Monday, calling her a "bogus president" while accusing her of violating the constitution by cheating in the elections and betraying the public's trust.

The prospects for the complaint are difficult to ascertain, says AP. Lawmakers have been debating whether the recordings, reportedly illegal wiretaps by military intelligence agents, could be used in legal proceedings.

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