January 23, 2001
volume 12, no. 23
Filipino Catholics Welcome New President

    MANILA, Jan. 21, 01 (FIDES) -- Today the newly sworn-in President of the Republic, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, held her first day of office at Malacanang, the presidential palace. During the day she announced the names of several persons who would be part of her cabinet.

    Among the first she announced is that of the new Finance Secretary, Roberto Romulo, who like her has a solid economics background.

    But outside the palace there are also other movements-- those of former President Estrada's supporters, who believe that Macapagal- Arroyo is not the legitimate president of the country, because Estrada himself has not resigned his office. In a statement Estrada issued to the media, he said that he had never signed any resignation papers.

    However, from the point of view of the Catholic Church, Macapagal- Arroyo is the legal president of the country. This afternoon the bishops of the Philippines held a Thanksgiving Mass for the Nation at the Manila cathedral. Present were all the 39 bishops who came for the official opening of the National Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal, which runs until Friday of this week. Present also were Cardinal Ricardo Vidal and Cardinal Jaime Sin who was the main celebrant.

    In his homily, Cardinal Sin recalled the first "Rosary Revolution" of 1986 which, under the leadership of Corazon Aquino, ran into difficulties including with a coup d'etat (which was unsuccessful), and other disasters, such as a major earthquake.

    "We have gathered this afternoon to proclaim the presence of God. The victory of last Saturday was not only the victory of the new president; it was not only the victory of peace-loving Filipinos; it was not only the victory of one power over another; it is first and foremost the victory of the grace of God," said Cardinal Sin.

    Referring to the new president, Cardinal Sin said: "The presidency can lead her to heaven and make her a saint, but only if she gives her best, without counting the cost-- only if she serves like Christ, who willingly sacrificed everything for the sake of the ones he loved." The cardinal reassured the nation's new leader that the Church would help her when she needed help. Nevertheless he pointed out: "We will also criticize you, for the good of the nation."

    For her part President Macapagal-Arroyo acknowledged the message of Cardinal Sin-- who, she said, had approached her and offered to help her "for the good of the country." The president reiterated that God must love the Philippines so much that he allowed the bloodless "Rosary Revolution" to occur twice. "God's love for our people has been so great that he gave us a miracle not once but twice," she said. President Macapagal-Arroyo continued: "I pray that God will bestow on us the golden gift of peace: the gift of peace to rebuild our nation, another chance to revive our economy."

    The new president also promised to accept constructive criticism by the Catholic bishops. "And when an occasion where the leaders and the guardians of our spiritual and ethics do criticize me, I will listen and will try to do better," she said.

    One of those present to hear the new leader's remarks was former President Corazon Aquino, who said that she has full trust in the leadership of the president and that she hopes that more investors would now come to the country to invest "because we do need the capital." Under-secretary Phil Joson of the Department of Labor said that under the country's new leader, the economy may change for the better; he noted that the stock market today rose steeply, and that the foreign exchange rates have returned to normal.

    In the case of former President Estrada, Senator Raul Roco said that "there will be no reconciliation with justice." He was referring to the undeclared wealth of Estrada, which he apparently acquired through bribery and other dubious means.

    The aftereffects of the second "Rosary Revolution" drew positive responses from the international community. US charge d'affaires Michael Malinowski said: "The United States is pleased that the crisis in the Philippines has been resolved without violence and in accordance with democratic and constitutional procedures."

    European Commission Ambassador Yves Gazzo said: "We are hoping for the best because the Philippine economy, particularly the stock market, was going down" Gazzo expressed the hope that the country's new leader "will be able to steer the economy to recovery soon."

    A businessman from Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao, Jess Paras, said: "Although we cannot expect the new president to do wonders soon, the most important thing was that we were able to stop the downfall of the economy as a result of a graft-ridden Estrada presidency."

For other news stories, see

January 23, 2001
volume 12, no. 23
DAILY CATHOLIC Global News in the Universal Church

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