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
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
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
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