Arroyo promises 10 million new jobs in Philippines

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The Independent Online

The newly elected President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, appealed for unity yesterday and reached out to the poor, who had backed her opponent, with a promise to create 10 million jobs by 2010.

The newly elected President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, appealed for unity yesterday and reached out to the poor, who had backed her opponent, with a promise to create 10 million jobs by 2010.

"I can't do everything alone. I need all Filipinos to unify," said Ms Arroyo, a 57-year-old American-educated economist, before flying to her swearing-in ceremony in Cebu, one of her strongholds in the May election.

She aimed much of her speech at the one-third of her nation's 84 million people who live in grinding poverty and who largely supported the film star Fernando Poe Jr in the presidential election.

"The government must make tough choices, but this I promise: they will be tougher on those who have it easy than on those who have it tough already," she said, gaining applause from a crowd of up to 50,000 people in Manila.

Security forces were on alert for unrest or terror attacks. Police said they arrested four men on Tuesday with bomb-making materials, possibly with the intention of disrupting the inauguration.

Mr Poe alleges voting fraud and refuses to concede the election. His supporters warn of a possible "people power" revolt like the ones that ousted Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Ms Arroyo's predecessor, Joseph Estrada, in 2001.

Mr Poe criticised the use of tear gas and water cannon to break up a demonstration by his supporters on Tuesday. "If people can no longer express their legitimate opinion in public, then they might be tempted to find other means of expressing themselves," he added, without elaborating.

His running mate, Senator Loren Legarda, said the opposition had no plans to concede and was considering whether to challenge the election results in the Supreme Court, a procedure that could take years. "There is no need to concede defeat because we did not lose," she said. "The election ... was marred by fraud."

Dozens of left-wing protesters were turned back while marching toward the swearing-in ceremony in Cebu, and radio reports said some protesters were injured in scuffles with police. Another group of protesters carried a poster calling Ms Arroyo the "mother of all cheats".

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