Post-presidential involvement in politics is not something new. We know, for example, that the late Coazon Aquino continued to involve herself in politics long after she ceased being president, as did Fidel Ramos and Joseph "Erap" Estrada. In the US, from which we copied our presidential system of government, many former US Presidents continued to be active in politics long after they have stepped down from office.
It is also not a new phenomenon for a former president to run for or be appointed to a public office after completing his term. John Quincy Adams, after serving as the 6th president of the US, was elected as a member of the US House of Representatives. Now contrary to what the critics say, this would not necessarily cheapen or demean the presidency. John Quincy Adams's incumbency as congressman for 17 years was served well in championing civil and political rights that eventually led to the removal of the prohibition on introducing legislations against slavery.
Of course GMA's candidacy for Congress is unprecedented in the Philippines. What leaves a bad taste in the mouth about it, as described by Sen. Chiz Escudero, has something to do less with demeaning the presidency than with GMA's nine years of presidency being characterized by corruption and abuse of power, and a nagging question about the legitimacy of her ascendancy to power. During her incumbency, GMA's admininstration has been beset by scandal after scandal, such as the $329-million NBN-ZTE broadband network deal, $14-million IMPSA power plant project, P728-million feritlizer fund scam, P321-million Jose Pidal accounts, and, not least of all, the "Hello Garci" scandal - our very own version of Watergate which should have brought down GMA's presidency as it did Nixon's. To this day, however, not one has been put behind bars despite these egregious scandals of brobdingnagian proportion.
The opposition have raised fears of GMA manuevering her way into power again in running for a congressional seat. The theories range from her gaining the House Speakership, directing a charter change toward a parliamentary government that would make her prime minister, to acquiring immunity from prosecution. But the message that should be stressed is the evil of electing someone whose governance has been tainted with corruption, official wrongdoing, scandals, abuses of power and electoral fraud.
To be sure, GMA being back at the helm is a distasteful proposition. Reprehensible even. But for now this is conjectural and may not happen at all. The opposition should come out strong and emphasize the evils that lurked under GMA's tenure in decrying her return to politics, instead of harping on conjectures about her return odyssey to power. While it is true that none of the charges against GMA have yet been proven - at least in a court of law - there is no denying, however, that these scandals and official malfeasances did take place. And they took place under her watch, which speaks volumes about her competence and effectiveness as a leader. Even worse, the public have yet to see the hand of the law reaching the guilty, while GMA thwarted, under the guise of executive privilege, every effort to bring to light the facts and circumstances surrounding these scandals.
The candidacy of GMA will ultimately be a referendum on her presidency. Her election as a Pampanga representative come May 2010 will put a stamp of approval on all that she represented under her nine years of incumbency as president - something every Pampangueño should seriously ponder before doing.