Arroyo Sets Goals for Philippines

From Associated Press

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo outlined ambitious plans Monday to fight poverty, corruption and crime, but her proposal for a year without political bickering didn't make it through the afternoon.

"We don't intend to stop as we are in the opposition and we will criticize the government responsibly," said Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel after Arroyo's first state of the nation address.

Arroyo's plan calls for modernization of agriculture, special programs for the disadvantaged and improvement in the "moral standards" of government and society. She promised results in 12 months.

"We need every ounce of resource to wage this war on poverty," Arroyo said.

She gained a crucial edge in ensuring swift passage of legislation needed to combat the country's woes after allies captured the leadership of Congress on Monday.

New Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Jose de Venecia are members of Arroyo's People Power Coalition. They pledged to work for an independent Congress but expressed support for Arroyo's efforts to revive the economy and ease poverty.

Critics said they want to see results.

"We don't expect her to do everything at once," said Millet Morante, secretary-general of the Movement for National Democracy. "But it's been six months now, and she has done nothing for the poor."

The 10,000 protesters outside the House of Representatives underscored the growing impatience for change. They were kept away by 3,500 riot police.

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