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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 13:59 GMT
Arroyo pledges to 'crush' enemies
Gloria Arroyo
Arroyo offered a hand of reconciliation, but talked tough
Newly inaugurated Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has delivered a blunt warning that she will stamp out any attempt to destabilise her government.

Should you... persist in your evil designs, you can try but you will fail

Gloria Arroyo
In a national television broadcast, Mrs Arroyo told her opponents - believed to supporters of her ousted predecessor Joseph Estrada: "I shall crush you."

She also said, in the same broadcast, that she had withdrawn the controversial appointment of her national security advisor, General Lisandro Abadia.

President Gloria Arroyo (right) with Armed Forces Chief General Angelo Reyes
Arroyo has secured support from armed forces chief General Reyes
Mrs Arroyo offered what she called "the enemies of the state" the opportunity of peace and reconciliation.

But she warned: "Should you, however, persist in your evil designs, you can try but you will fail. You cannot win against the people."

"I am warning you, think it over," she said.

I am not a happy warrior but if forced, I have a sworn duty to protect and defend the constitution

Gloria Arroyo
Persistent coup rumours have swept the country since Mrs Arroyo was sworn in on 20 Janauary, following a popular uprising in which Mr Estrada was deposed.

On Monday, Estrada supporters petitioned the Supreme Court to clarify the legality of his replacement - a move which could lead to a legal challenge to Mrs Arroyo's authority.

Corruption allegations

Mrs Arroyo has heeded criticism over the appointment of two cabinet nominees accused of corruption - General Abadia and Leandro Mendoza, her preferred national police chief.

former Defence Minister Orlando Mercado
Orlando Mercado resigned last week
She said that, although she still had confidence in General Abadia, she would not now appoint him.

She also ordered a government investigation into Mr Mendoza, who has been accused of having links with illegal gambling and kidnapping syndicates.

The controversy over the two cabinet nominees has marred Mrs Arroyo's first week in office.

Her defence minister, Orlando Mercado, had already submitted his resignation over General Abadia's appointment.

The affair has threatened to sidetrack the government from more pressing issues, including the budget deficit, predicted to soar to $4bn this year.

Simple lifestyle

General Abadia's appointment was attacked over allegations that he misused military pension funds.

Former president Joseph Estrada
Former president Estrada was embroiled in a corruption scandal
And a private anti-crime group says Mr Mendoza was suspiciously soft on some criminals during his time as a police chief.

Mrs Arroyo had pledged to take a strong stand on corruption.

At the swearing-in of half her cabinet last Friday, she ordered members to adopt a simple lifestyle following the downfall of her predecessor in a massive corruption scandal.

She also ordered members to sign a code of conduct that included showing "respect for others", living simply and focusing on the poor.

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See also:

27 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippine customs seize cash shipments
26 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Arroyo gets tough with new cabinet
25 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Arroyo dismisses coup threats
25 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines coffers 'empty'
20 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
World leaders welcome Arroyo
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