Monday, July 27, 2009

Philippine Democracy in Spotlight for Arroyo ‘Farewell’ Speech

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo makes what should be her last state of the nation speech with opposition politicians waiting to see if she’ll try to stay in power beyond her six-year, one-term limit. Lawmakers in the Arroyo-controlled House of Representatives last month called for an unprecedented joint vote with the smaller Senate to discuss amending the constitution. Senators, outnumbered by House members 10-to-1, oppose changes before next year’s elections and without a constitutional convention elected for the purpose.

Arroyo risks stirring the wrath of voters suspicious that her election five years ago was fraudulent. She also will have to tailor her message before she meets President Barack Obama in Washington this week. The U.S. backs democracies in Southeast Asia such as the Philippines and Indonesia to counter China’s influence and stem the spread of terrorist offshoots of al-Qaeda.

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