Arroyo pledges days of 'people power' revolts over

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo believes the days of "people power" uprisings to remove Philippine leaders are over. Arroyo claimed Friday that only a shift to a parliamentary system can stop the country's democracy from sliding into anarchy.

In a third day of interviews with local media, Arroyo - facing impeachment - lamented being subjected to trial by media over charges that she rigged last year's election and that her family took bribes.

"If we do not address this finally, our politics will deteriorate," she told DZRH radio. "Imagine if we have president after president being toppled, president after president being tried by publicity, president after president being impeached."

In her state of the nation address on Monday, Arroyo signaled the start of "the great debate on charter change" to shift to a parliamentary system. Such a move would fuse the legislative and executive branches of government and help stop gridlocks caused by quarrels between the president and the U.S.-style bicameral Congress, Arroyo said.

"While Myanmar is trying to strengthen its democracy, our democracy is weakening and turning into anarchy," she said. "We have to strengthen our democracy. In the past it was said that something is wrong with the system. But now it has become so wrong that the system itself is wrong."

Arroyo is embroiled in her worst political crisis since taking power after massive protests ousted President Joseph Estrada in 2001. In 1986, a "people power" revolt toppled late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Arroyo only touched on the latest allegations against her: that regional election officials received 2 million pesos (US$35,700; Ђ29,500) in bribes to rig the polls, in her presence in a hotel room.

"No one has given any bribe in my presence, that's all I can say," she said. "But enough said because I am an accused and I should heed the advice of my lawyers not to speak about the charges against me."

Arroyo earlier asked her husband and son to leave the country after they were both accused of receiving illegal gambling payoffs, along with her brother-in-law.

Despite her recent political upsets, Arroyo has still managed to impress on the international stage - she was named the world's fourth most powerful woman by Forbes' magazine Friday. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice topped the list, reports the AP.

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