Vice President Salvador Laurel on Saturday accused President Corazon Aquino's government of corruption and incompetence and urged her to resign and call new elections.
In a four-page letter to the president, Laurel said conditions in the Philippines had gone "from bad to worse" since Aquino was swept to power in the 1986 civilian-military revolt that ousted President Ferdinand Marcos. He said Aquino failed to curb corruption or stem the 19-year communist rebellion.Laurel said that if Aquino resigned, he would step down, too. But he said that if she refused to quit, he would leave her coalition government while remaining vice president, an elected post.
Aquino refused to comment on Laurel's resignation call but accused her vice president of withholding support for her during two major coup attempts.
Last September, Laurel, 59, quit as foreign secretary and refused to serve in the Cabinet, citing "fundamental differences" with Aquino.
Since then, the vice president's political base has eroded steadily. Twenty-one of the 22 members of his party in the House of Representatives are reportedly preparing to defect to pro-Aquino parties.
Laurel read his letter to reporters:
"Madame President: The time has come to tell our people with humility and candor that the presidency itself is the problem - because the task requires a higher level of competence - in the face of the advancing communist insurgency, the breakdown of law and order, the resurgence of widespread corruption, the paralyzation of political will and the growing desperation of our people.
"We need a leadership that does not only preach boldly, but sternly and courageously enforces public order and public morality without regard to the toll levied upon one's popularity," Laurel said. "That leadership you have promised, but have failed to deliver."