Friday, December 4, 2009

Arroyo ally taunts: OK, she quits; Noli takes over, boo!

By Leila Salaverria, TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:14:00 12/04/2009

Filed Under: Inquirer Politics, Eleksyon 2010

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines — Trust this ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to trot out a handy bogey in her defense.

Apparently to defuse the impact of former President Fidel Ramos’ call for Ms Arroyo to step down now after she filed her certificate of candidacy for representative of her home province, Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez in effect posed this question: Do you want Vice President Noli de Castro to lead the country while the economy is in the doldrums?

Suarez said Ms Arroyo—who holds a doctorate in economics and taught the subject in top schools—had to continue leading the nation because her expertise was very much needed in the face of the foundering global economy and the Philippines’ own shaky financial health.

Financial uncertainty

“Assuming she would have to resign—I’m not belittling the capacity of Vice President De Castro [to take up the reins of government]—we’re now facing a recession, bank run, collapse of financial giants. I think Vice President De Castro would have a problem in confronting these issues,” Suarez said at Thursday’s Serye forum in Quezon City.

There was no comment from De Castro, who was a popular broadcaster before he entered the political arena and readily won as senator and vice president.

According to Suarez, Ms Arroyo has withstood controversies and attempts to unseat her because of her administration’s strong fiscal position, which is her “bedrock.”

Thus, he said, Ms Arroyo should not quit the presidency during these times of financial uncertainty: “It is good for us that even if the President would vie for a seat in Congress, she would have to contend with the fact that we are not over the hump.”

‘Grave consequences’

Ramos, whose relations with MalacaƱang have been strained since the merger of administration parties Lakas and Kampi (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino), called on the President on Wednesday to resign in order to level the playing field in the second district of Pampanga, which she wants to represent.

He said Ms Arroyo being a sitting President would give her “undue advantage” over her opponents. (Three others—architect Adonis Simpao, electronics engineer Feliciano Serrano and entrepreneur Filipinas Sampang—are seeking the same position.)

But Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Ms Arroyo would be turning her back on her constitutional mandate if she heeded Ramos’ call.

“The term of this President ends June 30, 2010, and for [her] to relinquish the presidency sooner is to abandon her sworn constitutional duty,” Ermita said in a statement.

He pointed out that Ramos had taken the same oath as president and was thus aware that a resignation “brings with it grave consequences.”

“It is a virtual abandonment of the Office of the President and an actual repudiation of the oath,” he said.

Ermita said he regarded Ramos with “high esteem” but disagreed with the latter’s call not only because the President must fulfill her constitutional mandate but also because her “continued tenure violates no law.”

“When President Arroyo was elected, she took the oath that she would faithfully and conscientiously ‘fulfill my duties as President,’ with her term to ‘begin at noon, the 30th day of June following the day of the election, and shall end at noon of the same date six years thereafter,’” he said.


Ramos skipped the May 28 formal launch of the merged Lakas-Kampi-CMD, which he said lacked consultation. Since then, he has been taking potshots at the President and her administration, and has refused the offer that he serve as the party’s chair emeritus.

But Ermita said Ramos should not take against Ms Arroyo her province mates’ clamor for her to seek the congressional seat.

“President Arroyo, from all indications, as shown during the filing of her certificate of candidacy [on Tuesday], commands the overwhelming support and affection of the residents of her district,” Ermita said.

“Obviously, that is something that cannot be taken against her, neither by the former President nor by anybody [else] for that matter,” he said.

‘Inexcusably mysterious’

Ramos had described Ms Arroyo’s decision to run for Congress as “inexcusably mysterious,” and said it “diminishes the stature of the presidency.”

But Ermita appealed to the public to respect Ms Arroyo’s move: “Give understanding to the appeals of her constituents, and uphold the Constitution and the law.”

Original Story:

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