One of the questions hovering in the realm of Philippine politics is whether President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will run in next year’s elections.
The issue is being floated around by lawmakers loyal to her, notably Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, who was also responsible for footing the bill of one of the President’s extravagant dinners abroad. So far, he has expressed the idea that the President could either run for Congress, representing her home province Pampanga, or for Vice-President. Today, Suarez asserted that the President, given her supposed experience, would make an excellent Speaker of the House.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the President will soon issue an order for Suarez to shut up, as his sycophancy isn’t doing his patron any favors. Based on the surveys, the President is widely unpopular, and one of the reasons for this is the perception that she has been looking for ways and means in order to stay in power. By putting the spotlight on the issue, Suarez is reminding people why Arroyo shouldn’t be allowed to stay beyond her current term.
Still, some of his assertions have some merit behind them, particularly the notion that the President might run for Congress. The media has been keeping a running total of how many times the President has visited Pampanga this year, giving credence to the possibility of the President’s running there.
As for the Vice-Presidency, I’m not sure how much of an asset she will be to any presidential aspirant, although, if she did decide to throw her hat into the race, she would most likely be paired off with the administration candidate-to-be, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro. Such a pair would only highlight Teodoro’s attachment to the President, and would only be a lodestone on his back; all his opponents would have to do is to focus attention on the many scandals of the Arroyo administration. Furthermore, it will strongly suggest that Teodoro is merely the puppet of the President, who will most likely act as an eye over his shoulder, thus emasculating the would-be President.
Another issue that the President will have to hurdle is, if she should run, whether she should step down from her position. If she runs concurrently with her position as President, she will never shake off the belief that she will use her position to win. While it appears clear that there is no legal barrier to this, it is still a grossly unfair advantage, and she will never live that issue down should she win.
From another point, it’s possible that all this speculation is merely a smokescreen in order to hide yet another administration scheme. What that could be escapes me at the moment.
It should be noted that, aside from the occasional pronouncements from Suarez and other loyal lawmakers, there has been little reaction from the opposition regarding Arroyo’s post-Presidential plans. It’s likely that people are taking a wait-and-see attitude to this, which is only right. The President hasn’t categorically stated that she plans to run next year, so, at this point, the whole thing is a non-issue, and will remain so until she actually files her certificate of candidacy. When that happens, we can be sure that the fireworks will go off then.