Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo apologised Monday for a lapse in judgement as she admitted that it was her voice in recordings that have stirred the biggest political controversy in the country in recent years, but insisted she did not sway last year's election.
In a nationally televised speech, Arroyo appealed for unity as she addressed the three-week-old political crisis over the wiretapped phone conversation that has sparked calls for her to resign with five years left in her term.
"I recognize that making any such call was a lapse in judgment," a sombre Arroyo said as she looked into the camera. "I am sorry. I also regret taking so long to speak before you on this matter.
"I take full responsibility for my actions. To you and to all those good citizens who may have had their faith shaken by this event, I want to assure you that I have redoubled my efforts to serve the nation and earn your trust.
"I want to close this chapter and move on with the business of governing."
But it appeared that reconciliation was still far away.
"This sparked many more questions than just the president admitting she was the one on the tape," said opposition legislator Francis Escudero. "But this is the first important step towards the country finding out the truth."
Several House committees began hearings last week on the wiretap tapes of the chat between Arroyo and former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, which Arroyo said occurred when the election results already had been widely forecast but before the final numbers were announced.
But the opposition, which has organized a number of street protests against Arroyo, said it would not let up.
"She has admitted guilt," said legislator Teodoro Casino. "It was an illegal act, not a simple lapse of judgment. The next proper thing for her to do is to resign or be impeached."
Arroyo spokesman Ignacio Bunye said it was time to move on.
"There is nothing illegal here," Bunye said in a statement. "The only value in pursuing this at this point is political embarrassment. No doubt her detractors will continue to stoke the controversy for their own personal gain. But for most reasonable people, this issue is behind us."
Source: China Daily