FORMER President Joseph Estrada and ex-defense chief Gilbert Teodoro gave their respective stands on the looming plan to make outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the first woman speaker if she gets elected in the House of Representatives in May.
The standard bearer of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) said the Filipinos cannot accept Arroyo as the Speaker come 15th Congress because of governance failure and for being deeply unpopular.
“Let’s stop the suffering of the Filipinos. Under her rule, there were 10 million Filipinos who are hungry; we were the most corrupt country in Asia as reported by the Transparency International. The Reporters without Borders said the Philippines is the most dangerous place for journalists, among others,” Estrada said in a radio interview.
“Not anymore please. In fact, she (President Arroyo) was the luckiest president ever, having served for nine years despite the constitutional limit of only six years. Whatever happens, she should not be the next Speaker,” he added.
In December 1 last year, Arroyo became the first Philippine president to run for a lower house seat after stepping down. Barred by the Constitution from seeking a second term, Arroyo filed her candidacy to represent the second district of Pampanga, currently occupied by her eldest child Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo.
Meanwhile, the former President said he would leave it up to the courts to decide if President Arroyo is indeed guilty on various graft and corruption allegations.
“Let the judge decide on the case. I will not interfere. Let’s give independence to the judiciary,” Estrada said, adding that the judiciary is a co-equal branch of government.
Teodoro, the Lakas-Kampi-CMD bet, said in a separate interview over the weekend that a “consensus” among party members should be mustered before endorsing any candidate for speakership.
“Just like the process when I was named standard-bearer, it followed a one-person, one vote scheme. The party needs to discuss the issue thoroughly and it should be the majority who will decide the party’s bet for speakership,” Teodoro said.
He added that there is no formal talk yet about the reported speakership bid of President Arroyo.
Earlier, survey front-runner and Liberal Party bet Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III chided Arroyo’s allies in the House after floating the scenario of having the numbers to install her as the next House speaker.
The ruling party had fielded 170 candidates for Congress in the May elections, or roughly 74 percent of the more than 230 available House seats. The party had also fielded 64 candidates for governor or 80 percent of the 86 gubernatorial seats.
Malacañang meanwhile said it is too early to discuss whether the President should be the successor to outgoing Speaker Prospero Nograles, whose running for Davao City mayor after completing the three-term limit.
‘Deny the Five’ campaign
Party-list group Akbayan led by former representative Etta Rosales and University of the Philippines College of Law Professor Atty. Ibarra Gutierrez III on Monday slammed the purported plan of the Arroyo family to “perpetuate themselves in power” via gaining seats in the House of Representatives.
In a media briefing held at a restaurant in Quezon City, the group said the country should not vote for any of the five Arroyo members seeking a House seat.
“They are using the party-list system as a backdoor to enter the House,” Etta Rosales told reporters on the launching of the “Deny the Five” campaign.
“The fact that these Arroyos are running in the party-list system is in itself a violation of the spirit of the law," she added.
A total of 187 party-lists have been accredited by the Commission on Elections, 11 of which are identified by Akbayan as “dubious” for being “administration fronts.”
These are: Babae Ka, Kakusa, Banat, Bantay, Agbiag!, Anak, LYPAD, ANAD, Biyaheng Pinoy, Bigkis Pinoy, and Aangat Tayo.
Four of these groups — Banat, Bantay, Kakusa, and ANAD — currently have elected representatives in the House.
“These (party-list groups) could provide the private army of GMA (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) that will be her supporters in the event that she wins a seat and then she will become Speaker of the House given the fact that right now they cannot really rely on district representatives because a lot of the locals are now jumping ship,” Rosales said.
The list of accredited party-lists' nominees will not be submitted until March 26.
Aside from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who’s eyeing to replace her eldest son Mikey on Pampanga’s second district, Arroyo’s second son Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo is running for congressman on Camarines Sur’s first district while brother-in-law Ignacio Arroyo goes for reelection in Negros Occidental’s fifth district.
President Arroyo’s sister-in-law Maria Lourdes “Marilou” Tuason Arroyo-Lesaca is set to represent anew the small entrepreneurs via the Kasangga party-list while Mikey has yet to make up his mind on what party-list group to represent.
Mikey said last week on the sidelines of his House energy committee hearing on the energy crisis that “many party-list groups are asking” him to run.
“What marginalized group will Mikey end up representing? The party-list system intends to provide space for the representation of marginalized groups that would otherwise have no opportunity to win in traditional politics that dominates the district representation race. It is not a space for trapos (traditional politicians), much less the first family, to use as an alternative route to Congress,” Rosales said.
Gutierrez further said Akbayan is more than willing to contest the candidacy of Mikey if he indeed accepts the nomination saying “under no circumstances will anyone believe (Mikey) to be a representative of the marginalized."
“There is still the possibility of actually pursuing legal remedies before the Comelec against nung pagtakbo ng mga ganitong klaseng tao (against the candidacy of these kinds of people),” Gutierrez added. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)