Thousands of protesters in the capital of Philippines Manila call for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's resignation, but she urged "a fundamental change" in the constitution. Philippines’ security forces have been put on high alert as protesters gathered in front of the House of Representatives, the site of Arroyo’s State of the Nation address. Scandal-plagued President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Monday urged Congress to change the constitution to shift to a parliamentary form of government to ease the Philippines' constant political instability.
"The system clearly needs fundamental change - and the sooner, the better," Arroyo said in her annual state of the nation address to a joint session of Congress.
Referring indirectly to the two "people power" revolts that have forced out two presidents since 1986 and a constant rash of coup attempts and takeover rumors, Arroyo said in the 20-minute speech that her nation has become too polarized to make the changes it needs to meet the challenges of the 21st century, says the AP.
"Ours is a country divided," said Arroyo, who has come under pressure to quit with nearly five years left in her term over allegations that she rigged last year's election. "One is a Philippines whose economy ... is now poised for takeoff. The other ... has become a hindrance to progress."
Political analyst Earl Parreno said he expected Arroyo to be less combative than in recent weeks but to defend her legitimacy as president and ignore an impeachment complaint filed by the opposition in the lower house on Monday.
"She will not meet the political problems head on and will focus her speech more on her government's economic achievements and promises to do more to introduce economic reforms," he was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Up to 20,000 protesters, including left-wing groups and supporters of deposed President Joseph Estrada, carried streamers saying "Oust Gloria now!" and "Goodbye Gloria."