Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Noynoy vows new era of clean rule

May 12, 2010, 7:49pm

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"I want to lead by example. We talk about corruption. I did make a public vow, I will never steal," Aquino said in the interview, adding that this would give him the "moral authority" to make others conform.

MANILA, May 12, 2010 (AFP) - Leading presidential candidate Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III pledged a new era of clean government as he railed Wednesday against outgoing leader Gloria Arroyo and her corruption-tainted administration.

The son of late democracy heroine Corazon Aquino trounced his rivals by a landslide in national elections on Monday and has since unleashed a barrage of criticism of his longtime rival.

The latest flare-up came after Arroyo on Wednesday named a new chief justice to the Supreme Court, one of a string of appointments Aquino and other critics believe are intended maintaining influence once she steps down.

In an interview with AFP on Tuesday, Aquino vowed to probe Arroyo for allegedly trying to rig the 2004 presidential election and accused her of using her time in power to enrich herself.

"She could have brought significant changes to this country but she chose to advance her personal interests and those who were supporting her personal interests to the detriment of the country," he said.

Aquino, a 50-year-old senator who campaigned on a pledge of clean government and a pledge to wipe out corruption in the impoverished nation, sought to portray an opposite image to one many Filipinos have of Arroyo.

"I want to lead by example. We talk about corruption. I did make a public vow, I will never steal," Aquino said in the interview, adding that this would give him the "moral authority" to make others conform.

Arroyo's spokesman said Wednesday the 63-year-old incumbent was ready to face any investigation over the alleged vote rigging and confident she would be found innocent.

"This offers the president an opportunity to answer these accusations, to clear the air and submit herself to the judgement of history," Gary Olivar said.

Arroyo, who took office in 2001 when Estrada was deposed for corruption and then won her own election in 2004, will not be disappearing from public life as she won a seat in Congress, where she is expected to build a new power base.

And Aquino also lashed out at the latest judicial appointment by Arroyo, who is due to hand over the reins of power in the nation of 94 million people on June 30.

"We call upon her to recognise the new government's right to appoint the next chief justice," Aquino said in a statement.

"There is still time for Mrs Arroyo to reconsider her decision. We hope she will choose not to add another burden on top of everything else she will be leaving behind."

Aquino rode a wave of support from the "People Power" movement of his democracy hero parents in Monday's election after almost a decade of rule by the unpopular Arroyo.

Although counting is not yet complete, partial results show him securing about 40 percent of the estimated 37.5 million votes cast in the country's first automated polls.

His closest rival, former president Joseph Estrada, 73, was trailing on 25 percent of the vote, with Arroyo's chosen successor and former defence secretary Gilberto Teodoro running a distant fourth.

But a proclamation can only be made after 100 percent of the data arrives, which election officials hope will occur by the end of the week.

Aquino -- who only decided to run after the death of his mother last year -- said he was aiming to pick his cabinet members ahead of the handover of power "so that come July 1, everybody is performing what they are supposed to do"

His party spokesman, Lorenzo Tanada, said he would appoint a transition team on Wednesday or Thursday in order to coordinate with the Arroyo's outgoing administration.

Aquino's mother led the "People Power" revolution that overthrew the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and then served as president.

His father, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, was shot dead in 1983 as he attempted to return from US exile to lead the movement against Marcos.

More than 17,000 positions were at stake -- from president down to municipal council seats -- and a cast of colourful and controversial characters won posts.

Among them were world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and Imelda Marcos, the shoe-loving widow of Ferdinand, who both won seats in the House of Representatives.

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