Ramos vows to be vocal critic

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 May, 1998, 12:00am

Outgoing President Fidel Ramos warned last night he will not stay silent if his legacy of solid growth and stability is put at risk by his successor after Monday's elections.

'Whether they like it or not . . . I'll still be around,' he told the South China Morning Post.

'I'll still be talking, I will still be serving, I won't be afraid of speaking and giving advice.' His warning came as his chosen successor, Jose de Venecia, wrapped up his Manila campaigning with a far smaller-than-expected rally in the old quarter of Intramouros. Fireworks and on-stage razzmatazz did little to disguise the subdued mood of the crowd of just 2,000.

House Speaker Mr de Venecia is trailing populist candidate Joseph Estrada by 18 percentage points according to latest polls.

Few pundits give Mr de Venecia any chance of success.

Mr Estrada, a flamboyant film star with little specialist knowledge, is expected to be under pressure to find an advisory slot for Mr Ramos in a bid to protect the Philippines' relations with foreign governments and investors should he win.

Mr Ramos said he was proud to have shored-up democracy amid high growth in a region dominated by authoritarian rulers.

'We have a country that is as free and open as anywhere and we have still managed to make improvements all the time,' he said. 'Whatever happens, my greatest concern will be that the recent growth period is sustained and parallel developments are made to achieve full social reform to finally pull the country out of poverty.' Troops from the elite Philippine Marines will guard voters in Manila's Makati City business district following a series of grenade attacks.