As the Philippines gears up for presidential elections in May, 2004, the political merry-go-round could seriously distract the government from the task of running the country in the next six months. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is already scrambling to find a replacement for Jose Isidro Camacho, the highly respected Finance Secretary who is quitting her Cabinet on Nov. 30, rather than try to control fiscal spending in the runup to the polls. Other Cabinet members are expected to desert her to pursue their own political ambitions. Meanwhile, Arroyo, who has a PhD in economics and is a staunch ally of the U.S. in the war against terror, faces a strong challenge from movie star Fernando Poe Jr. If he wins, the country would have a leader with no experience in either politics or economics.
Edited by Rose Brady