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Gloria Macapagal Arroyo: Politics is the problem

The president of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, speaks to Euromoney's Asia editor Chris Cockerill about the state of the economy, the battle against corruption and the future of the country after her term of office finishes.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,
president of the Philippines:
an uncertain legacy.

GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO swept to power as the Philippines' president two years ago on a wave of middle-class protest against the corrupt incumbent Joseph Estrada. Many hoped her country would at last ditch the tag of Asia's under-achiever. But today the promises to stamp out corruption, substantially increase tax revenues, rein in the ballooning budget deficit, restructure and privatize the woefully inefficient public sector and make life a little more bearable for the desperately poor remain unfulfilled. Just what will Arroyo's administration's be known for other than a wasted opportunity?

Because of her government's inability to deliver the necessary changes, Arroyo announced at the end of December that she would not be seeking re-election. She was stepping aside, she claimed, because of a poisonous atmosphere and high-level political infighting that had made it impossible to push through tough policies. Cynics suggest the decision had more to do with the president's slumping popularity and likely defeat at the ballot box. But whatever the reasons, Arroyo has, if she doesn't decide to jump back into the electoral ring, just over a year in which to pep up a faltering legacy.

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