Seeking to defuse ongoing charges of corruption against her and her family, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said Wednesday that her husband would leave the country.
"Today, my family is once again called to sacrifice our personal happiness to allow me to serve best as president of our country," Arroyo told a business forum in Manila.
"My husband has volunteered to go abroad. I mention this here today because I want to signal to everyone that nothing can stop my administration from implementing . . . our reform agenda."
Arroyo admitted on Monday to speaking to an election official during presidential vote-counting last year, calling it a lapse in judgment but denying she tried to influence the election's outcome.
She did not say how long her husband, Jose Miguel, known as Mike, would remain abroad or where he would go, but there were reports that he would live in San Francisco.
Analysts doubted whether the move would protect Arroyo from criticism and said it could be seen as a sign of growing weakness or desperation.
Opposition lawmakers have said Jose Miguel, the couple's son Mikey and the president's brother-in-law Ignacio were involved in payoffs from gambling organizations. Arroyo's husband has also been accused of helping her try to fix last year's election. None of the charges has been proved.
"This is a major political earthquake," said William Esposo, a newspaper columnist and former Arroyo ally. "There is an impending tsunami and they are trying to blunt it."
Analysts see little chance of Arroyo quitting and say it will be difficult for the opposition to impeach the president because of her majorities in both houses of Congress.
The military reaffirmed its crucial support for her this week, and there have been no major defections among her allies.
Arroyo defeated movie star Fernando Poe Jr. in the May 2004 election by just more than 1 million votes, or about 3 percent. Poe died in December after a stroke.
Since Arroyo admitted talking to the election official, the opposition has renewed calls for her to resign, adding to nervousness in financial markets.