Thursday, March 25, 2010

Palace defends dynasties (Let’s not focus on one family – spokesman)

Thursday, 25 March 2010 00:00

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There is nothing wrong if the Arroyo family becomes a formidable force in the legislature as long as it does not violate the law, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

“As far as we know, this [families gaining a foothold in Congress] is allowed under the Constitution and, of course, we’re complying with the Constitution by letting people who want to run, run. Second, the Arroyo family, as far as we know, is not the only family that has multiple people in the legislature. You may wish to ask also those other families what message they are sending. Let us not focus on one family,” deputy spokesman Ricardo Saludo explained.

But if keeping with the law would lead to a prolonged stay for President Gloria Arroyo in power beyond June 2010, when she should step down, a son of a former president said that she should be made to vacate Malacañang.

“Big mobilizations, demonstrations, sit-down strikes, boycott by the transport sector and work stoppage would have to be launched to force [President Arroyo] out of Malacañang if she should refuse to leave at the end of her six-year term,” Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. of Ilocos Norte said in a statement also on Wednesday.

Marcos, the only son of late former strongman President Ferdinand Marcos, is running for senator in the May 10 elections under the Nacionalista Party.

He, however, warned against allowing any armed component to any protest actions against Mrs. Arroyo.

Marcos said that “all efforts must be made to ensure that there will be a peaceful transition of power” to give incoming leaders an opportunity to implement their programs of government.

A violent takeover of the government, he further warned, will only spell “failure” for the next administration.

In defending the First Family, Saludo was reacting to questions on political dynasties in the country and whether the Palace supports the presence of clans in the Philippine Congress.

According to him, it is unfair to single out one family, asking the media to also scrutinize other families whose members are in the legislature.

“It they wish to address it, they must address it in law,” Saludo said, apparently referring to critics.

“As far as I know, this [members of families becoming lawmakers] is allowed under the Constitution. If the media wants to investigate, I think it should investigate everybody, not only one [family],” he added.

President Arroyo’s sons, Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo of Camarines Sur and Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo of the Second District of Pampanga are again running for congressmen.

Mikey Arroyo has teamed up with a son of suspected jueteng lord Bong Pineda to gain seats in the House of Representative as nominees of a party-list group that claims to represent security guards.

He is the first nominee of Ang Galing Pinoy, while Dennis Pineda, the outgoing mayor of Lubao, Pampanga, is the group’s second nominee.

Each party-list group is entitled to a maximum of three seats in the House of Representatives, but the groups are required to submit the names of at least five nominees by March 26.

Mikey’s seat in the second district is being contested by Mrs. Arroyo in the May 10 elections.

The President’s move supposedly dovetails with her plan to become the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

From being the House leader, her next step also supposedly is to sport the title of prime minister under a shift from the presidential to parliamentary system of government.

Supposedly, too, according to the political opposition, Mrs. Arroyo as House Speaker would steer the chamber toward supporting Charter change, or “Cha-cha,” which would effect the shift in the system of government.

The opposition surmised that if she succeeded with Cha-cha, she would remain in power beyond 2010.
The President’s successor will be picked in the May 10 elections.

In calling for the ouster of Mrs. Arroyo if she insists to stay on without the people’s mandate, Marcos said that “welgang bayan” (general strike) will be “a persuasive instrument to prevent an Arroyo hold-over government.”

The lawmaker also warned about recent moves made by Malacañang, including appointing Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit as the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and floating the idea of a military junta if the May 10 balloting fails.

Marcos noted that a ruling of the Supreme Court in favor of granting the President authority to appoint the successor to Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno “only served to worsen the already jittery political climate.”

“We are seeing all the unsettling signs of a shadowy design to subvert the Constitution and our democratic process. Sadly, we can no longer rely on any assurances from this administration about respect for the popular will,” he said.

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