Declare now, presidential aspirants told
MANILA, Philippines — A Malacañang spokesperson dared individuals planning to run for president in next year’s elections to make their intentions public now so the electorate could size them up early.
As she issued this call, deputy presidential spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would remain focused on keeping the economy afloat amid the global recession, and not on politics.
Fajardo maintained Arroyo will step down when her term ends in 2010, but evaded questions on whether the President could hold on to power as prime minister if efforts to amend the 1987 Constitution succeed.
“I think it would be best if those who are interested in running in 2010 step forward, whether [they] will be from the opposition or from the administration side, or allies of the administration,” Fajardo told a news conference at the Palace.
By declaring their intention to run for president, Fajardo said the public could “study their track record and see if they have the capacity to lead the country.”
So far, only Senator Manuel Villar, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Bayani Fernando and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay have declared their intention to run for president next year.
Other rumored contenders include Vice President Noli de Castro, Senators Manuel Roxas II, Loren Legarda, Panfilo Lacson, and Francis Escudero, and Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, meanwhile, is being prodded by Lacson and the party Ang Kapatiran to run for president next year.
Fajardo said her challenge to presidential aspirants did not run counter to the administration’s call for the public servants to focus on their work since Arroyo “is not going to run in 2010.”
“Neither are we calling for them [presidential hopefuls] to do more politics instead of [focusing on] work. They can manage. This should also be a challenge to them to do a very good job,” she said.
Asked to comment on speculation Arroyo could become prime minister, Fajardo said: “[There is] nothing to comment on, kasi wala pa naman [because there’s nothing]. What is clear is that the President said she will step down in 2010.”
Arroyo has been vocal about her push for a shift from the presidential form of government to a federal-parliamentary system.
Her allies at the House of Representatives are trying to convene Congress into a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution, a move seen by her critics as a ploy to extend her stay in power.
Fajardo maintained that the Palace is leaving Charter change to lawmakers.
View article as posted on INQUIRER.net