Philippine president's spokesman criticizes opposition for gloomy 2006 forecast

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's spokesman on Thursday criticized opposition politicians for their gloomy 2006 forecasts, saying the worst of a monthslong political crisis is over and the country is headed for an economic rebound. Senate President Franklin Drilon warned Wednesday that political instability hounding Arroyo would continue into the new year and could threaten recent economic gains unless steps are taken to resolve it. Other opposition leaders made similar predictions.

"Our detractors are so obsessed with unseating President Arroyo that they refuse to accept that we have indeed made significant headway," presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said in a statement. More stable oil prices and high remittances of U.S. dollar earnings from millions of Filipino overseas workers have spurred consumer spending while bolstering the peso and business confidence in recent weeks following months of political turbulence over corruption and vote-rigging allegations against Arroyo.

Drilon said the economic gains, driven mostly by a seasonal hike in the inflow of U.S. dollar earnings, were temporary and could be eroded by the political impasse. "Our political crisis drags on," Drilon said, citing, among other reasons, unresolved doubts over the legitimacy of Arroyo's rule and her weak public support.

Drilon's prognosis, according to Bunye, "is an indirect acceptance that the worst is over since the conditions he set on the part of the president have long been addressed and are being sustained." Arroyo survived an opposition attempt to impeach her in September for allegedly rigging last year's election and for suspected corruption. Her overwhelming allies in Congress blocked the bid on a technicality. Protests calling for her to quit have waned, but coup rumors persist. Opposition lawmakers, including Drilon, have pledged to continue investigating corruption allegations that could implicate Arroyo, reports the AP. N.U.

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