No signature drive can erase constitutional ban vs Erap
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - April 23, 2008 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – From plunder to blunder.

Deposed President Joseph Estrada may be in danger of committing a big blunder if he decides to join the presidential race in 2010, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said yesterday.

Macalintal said Estrada should forget about seeking reelection on the back of popular clamor from his supporters or face political embarrassment by being disqualified.

“He is surely disqualified (to run again as president) under the Constitution and no amount of signature drive could erase the constitutional ban on his re-election bid,” Macalintal said.

Estrada supporters launched a signature gathering campaign to convince the former leader to seek reelection in the 2010 presidential polls.

Over 80,000 signatures were initially presented to Estrada as a gift for his 71st birthday last week.

Macalintal said supporters of Estrada, who was pardoned last year after being convicted of plunder, became disillusioned as they found it hard to accept that their idol no longer holds solid support from the masses.

“He no longer controls the ‘masa votes’ because there are new and young leaders who are appealable to the masses,” Macalintal said.

“Secondly, his supporters would think twice before voting for him for fear that their votes would be wasted once he is disqualified,” he said.

Macalintal also pointed out Estrada’s running in the 2010 elections would divide the opposition.

He said many from the opposition as well as those outside the administration have already expressed their intentions to run in 2010 and are seeking Estrada’s endorsement.

If Estrada decides to run himself, Macalintal said other opposition presidential wannabes will surely slug it out with the former president.

“So he (Estrada) is not sure of winning because other opposition presidentiables will surely not give in to him,” he said.

Macalintal earlier claimed that presidential hopefuls from the opposition are afraid of facing Vice President Noli de Castro in the 2010 presidential race.

He cited some presidential hopefuls distancing themselves from critics pushing for the resignation of President Arroyo amid allegations of corruption.

Macalintal said politicians eyeing the presidency in 2010 wanted Mrs. Arroyo to finish her term “not for anything else but because they are afraid to face the Vice President who would be a very formidable presidential bet as a sitting president.”

“(De Castro’s) being a strong number one in surveys of those trusted for 2010 polls, these presidential hopefuls would rather have GMA (President Arroyo) finish her term and have equal playing field with him,” he said.

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