abs-cbnNEWS.com | 12/02/2009 11:05 AM
MANILA - Former President Fidel V. Ramos on Wednesday urged President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to resign after she formalized her candidacy for Congress.
While the law may not require that she quit her post, Ramos said Mrs. Arroyo should step down in order to level the playing field in the congressional race in Pampanga's 2nd district.
"But can you imagine the fairness of it all? You, as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, chief executive with the power of appointment and removal; head of state, head of the government; director of the national budget, including the pork barrel, will run against this little lady here who is an ordinary engineer from Porac or a little mayor... or this guy here," Ramos told reporters.
The former president said a sitting President running for a local elective position not only raises the question of "equal protection of the law" and "equal opportunity; it also diminishes the stature of the presidency."
"You must be seen by the world, not just by the second district of Pampanga, as acting for the national interest of the republic," he said, adding that Mrs. Arroyo's running also erases the value of "unselfishness in public service."
The former president added that he does not believe Mrs. Arroyo can campaign for her congressional bid and faithfully fulfill her duties as the country's chief executive at the same time.
He said the presidency is a "full-time job" and requires work for "25 hours a day and eight days a week."
"As president, maybe you are juggling at least 10 hot potatoes which are national problems and even international developments all at the same time like a juggler," Ramos said.
He also cited as an example Mrs. Arroyo's "50 visits in Pampanga" while ignoring other provinces, including Maguindanao. He said the massacre could not have happened if the President had taken more seriously the situation in the southern province.
"I think as president you must know how to focus on certain things, distribute your time, save your energy for the most important devastating problems that could infringe on our national society," he said.
He said the election-related massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao is a "come down" for the Philippines, which, he said, was awarded the peace award in 1997 for the peace pact between the government and the separatist group, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
The former president also took a swipe at Mrs. Arroyo, saying she lowered the dignity of the Office of the President by running for a lower post.
He added that Mrs. Arroyo's political decision to run for Congress once again demeaned the country's status in the international community.
'A waste of time'
Meanwhile, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz said he will not file a petition against her congressional bid before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) or the Supreme Court because it would be a complete waste of time.
"No one can stop our friend (President Arroyo). What she wants is what she gets," Cruz told ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda (UKG) on Wednesday.
Cruz, who has been very critical of the Arroyo administration, however, said that he would not stop talking against the President's "embarrassing" political move.
He said he is hoping that he will be able to restore "reason, delicadeza and a sense of value" in Mrs. Arroyo.
Asked what could be the reason behind Mrs. Arroyo's political move, the retired bishop said it's very predictable: Once elected to Congress, she will work to become speaker of the House of Representatives, push for Charter change, and then start a campaign to become the country's prime minister under a parliamentary form of government.
Mrs. Arroyo ended months of speculations about her political plan on Monday after declaring that she is running for Congress. She filed her certificate of candidacy (COC) in Pampanga on December 1, the last day of the filing of COCs.
Mrs. Arroyo also made history by becoming the first incumbent Philippine president to run for a lower position. She also said that she will step down only after her term ends in June 2010.
Mrs. Arroyo's election lawyer and political adviser, Romulo Macalintal, meanwhile, dismissed speculations that Mrs. Arroyo is running for Congress to protect herself from criminal charges.
"There is no truth to that allegation because a congressman has no immunity from suit," Macalintal said, adding that a congressman can be arrested anytime outside the House of Representatives' compound.
He added that even a President can be charged and arrested if he has committed a very grave criminal offense.
He also denied that Mrs. Arroyo is planning to seek the House speakership once elected.
Macalintal said getting the speakership would need votes from the majority of the House's membership, and Mrs. Arroyo's Lakas-Kampi-CMD is being predicted to lose its hold on the lower chamber after the 2010 elections.
The election lawyer earlier said that Mrs. Arroyo's run for Congress would not violate the Constitution. He said the Constitution only prohibits a President from seeking a re-election, and that she can file her candidacy for a lower position, including the vice-presidency. With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News; ANC
as of 12/02/2009 12:05 PM