Arroyo's 2010 plans baffle allies

MANILA - The guessing game on President Arroyo's political plans next year is ruffling some feathers among her allies, with former president Fidel Ramos asking the incumbent to come clean about her 2010 ambitions while other top officials defended Arroyo's right to privacy.

Ramos fired the first salvo on the President by asking her to stop deluding the people with "titillations" on the constituent assembly and spelling out her plans for 2010.

"With precious time fleeting, (President Arroyo) must now make a clear and positive declaration to our people that she as President will transform herself and the nation, and not anymore delude our people, in particular her select circle of congressional cronies and family advisers, with titillations about con-ass and her future role as a Pampanga representative come July 1, 2010," Ramos said in his speech during a leadership forum on Thursday.

Ramos, a key ally of the President and chairman emeritus of the administration's Lakas-Kampi-CMD party, said Mrs. Arroyo could regain the people's trust if she decided to transform her image into one of sacrificial leadership.

Rumors had been circulating that President Arroyo is eyeing a congressional seat in Pampanga next year, with her critics saying that this may be connected to Charter change.

House Speaker Prospero Nograles, meanwhile, said the public should respect Mrs. Arroyo for keeping her cards close to chest with regards to her political ambitions.

"I think the president's plans are private and what she will do next politically is personal and will be something she and her own family will decide at the proper time. Maybe we should just concentrate on strengthening our new merged alliances in preparation for the elections," he said.

Cabinet Secretary Silvestro Bello III said the President has opted to keep mum on her plans next year to concentrate on her duties, and the public must respect her for that.

"We don't blame those people who would urge her on her political plans. But they also have to respect the President when she just wants to focus on her job. Anything she'll say won't please everybody [anyway]," he said in an ANC television interview.

Bello said the President may have chosen to conceal her plans next year to prevent further criticism from the public as the end of her term nears. Given this, he urged Ramos and other critics to respect Mrs. Arroyo's decision to focus on her current responsibilities.

"We still listen to [Ramos] considering his position and his vast experience in governance. But we have to respect the President if she wants to concentrate on her job. Politics is not her agenda [right now]. Let's respect her for that," he said.

'Arroyo deemed resigned if she runs'

A poll official, meanwhile, said Mrs. Arroyo is deemed resigned once she files her candidacy as a congressional candidate in Pampanga in the 2010 elections.

Commissioner Rene Sarmiento of the Commission on Elections said it is his legal opinion that the President has a sworn duty to serve a fixed term as the country’s head of state until June 30, 2010. He said if Mrs. Arroyo decides to run as a member of the House of Representatives and files her certificate of candidacy, she must resign or face disqualification from the congressional race.

“The constitutional provision is specific that she will serve as President until her term expires but if she seeks lower elective post she could no longer perform her duties as president while campaigning as candidate for a lower position,” he said during the Weekly Friday Balitaan sa Rembrandt Hotel in Quezon City.

Sarmiento said although Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Election Act is silent on the resignation of elected officials, the case of Mrs. Arroyo would be a test case on whether she will comply with the constitutional provision or just ignore it.

“As far as I am concerned the President is morally bound to resign if she intends to run for a congressional seat in the Second District of Pampanga,” he said.

Sarmiento admitted that the President could not be legally compelled to resign if she clings to her post because there are gray areas in the constitutional provision.

He however said the President might continue performing her duties even if she files her candidacy and she has the option to stay in her post while campaigning for the congressional seat.

Con-ass to disrupt polls

Meanwhile, Sarmiento warned congressmen that if the House of Representatives convenes into a constituent assembly (con-ass) without the Senate it might create chaos and confusion in the coming elections.

He said the propose amendments in the 1987 Constitution once approved by the con-ass would require ratification by the people through a referendum, which is a separate political exercise.

Sarmiento said the Comelec is not prepared to carry out the referendum and the elections simultaneously during the 2010 polls.

“There will be chaos and confusion if a plebiscite is done simultaneously with the 2010 election, he said.

He said if the proposed amendments will be incorporated into the ballots it will disrupt the time line of the Comelec for the local and national elections.

“Our main focus now is for the 2010 elections and if the proposed constituent assembly will push through we are not prepared for the conduct of a plebiscite for the amendments to the Charter,” he said.

Sarmiento said the commission needs at least six months to prepare for a plebiscite, including the information campaign and the actual voting of the people.

He said that any plebiscite should be conducted after the 2010 elections.

“In the worst case scenario, the conduct of plebiscite and election simultaneously would create chaos and derail the 2010 elections.” Sarmiento said.


Post a Comment