Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gloria eyes Speakership (Arroyo laying groundwork for House bid in last few months)

By Gerry Baldo

Original Story:

President Arroyo is bent on seeking the Speakership once she is elected into Congress and she has been actively courting people who are likely to become members of the 15th Congress, a key official of the administration Lakas-Kampi -CMD party said.

Arroyo is running for a congressional seat in her hometown in the second district of Pampanga.

The official, who requested anonymity, said Arroyo has a good chance of winning the Speakership race given the number of her loyal supporters in the Lower House and her immense wealth.

“She has so much money that she can support and maintain her supporters under an anti-Arroyo government,” the source added.

The source claimed that as early as a few months back Arroyo has been laying the groundwork for her imminent arrival in the House of Representatives.

“She has been courting people who are going to be in the House,” the same source said.

The source added getting into the number four post in the government would serve as leverage for Arroyo against a Villar or Aquino administration. The source was referring to Sen. Manny Villar and Sen. Benigno Aquino who are both leading the popularity surveys.

“This way she could lead the Lower House against a rather antagonistic administration,” the source said.

Critics of Arroyo, however, believe that getting the Speakership is key to her pursuit of the Charter change efforts to transform the government into a parliament with her as Prime Minister who will have an indefinite term based on the pleasure of the members of parliament.

Rep. Joel Villanueva of the Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption, however, said that it would be very difficult for Arroyo to convince lawmakers that she could “bring home the bacon” and lead a fight against the next administration.

“I don’t think she can get what she wants under a new administration,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva explained that unless the new administration is an ally of Mrs. Arroyo, she and her supporters, no matter how strong they are in the House, would find it difficult to fight the government machinery.

She may not even be able to fend off graft and plunder charges that are being readied by her political rivals.

Arroyo is apparently running for a congressional seat to keep her clout and get some form of immunity from suit in the event that charges are filed against her.

Arroyo’s allies had expressed confidence the disqualification case filed against her will be junked by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and eventually by the Supreme Court (SC).

Lakas-Kampi-CMD Reps. Marcelino Teodoro of Marikina City and Abdullah Dimaporo of Lanao del Norte said the petition filed by senatorial aspirant and Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros against Arroyo’s congressional bid lacked legal and constitutional bases.

Teodoro said he believes the SC won’t bar Arroyo from joining the congressional race in the second district of Pampanga and if this happens his critics should respect the decision of the high tribunal.

“It is up to the Supreme Court to give the ruling on the disqualification of PGMA in the 2010 elections. The law of the land should prevail in any circumstance and must be upheld by any individual,” he said.

Dimaporo said the President should be allowed to further serve her province mates and the country after her term expires.

“We should let PGMA further serve the nation as member of the House of Representatives. She will do much more for our people than most of the senatorial and congressional candidates if she makes it to Congress,” Dimaporo said.

Hontiveros, in her petition before the Comelec, said the President should be disqualified for denying her opponents equal opportunity for public service since they would be fighting an incumbent president who has the country’s resources at her disposal.

Arroyo’s congressional bid, she added, violated the equal protection stipulated in Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution, which states that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without protection of the laws.”

Arroyo’s House allies had welcomed her decision to seek a Congressional post in next year’s elections.

Cebu Rep. Antonio V. Cuenco said such decision stands to benefit not only the people of Pampanga but the entire country as well whom President Arroyo serves with dedication and excellence.

“The President should not retire after her term expires. She can do a lot for our people given her intelligence, experience and desire to serve,” said Cuenco, chairman of the House committee on foreign affairs.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo III Albano dismissed statements of the President’s critics that she should not run for Congress anymore because she has already occupied the highest position of the land.

It is for the President’s supporters in Pampanga to decide, said Albano, a member of the House contingent to the Commission on Appointments.

“If they want Ms. Arroyo to be their representative in Congress even after she has served as President of the Republic, that’s their prerogative,” Albano said.

For his part, Tarlac Rep. Jeci Lapus appealed to the critics of the President to let her be in her decision to run for Congress.

“This is democracy and for as long as she is not violating any law, she can run for Congress and serve her kabalens,” said Lapus, vice chair of the House committee on good government and public accountability.

Original Story:

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