It's final: GMA can run for House seat
() - February 24, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - President Arroyo can run for Congress representing the second district of Pampanga on May 10 without any impediment, the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled.

Upholding the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the SC dismissed yesterday a petition of Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros seeking to disqualify Mrs. Arroyo from the congressional elections.

In a minute resolution, the SC ruled that the Comelec did not commit “grave abuse of discretion” in allowing Mrs. Arroyo to run for Congress.

Jose Midas Marquez, court administrator and SC spokesman, said the justices have the discretion not to elaborate on their decision, which did not explain the merits of the case.

“The Court does not want election issues left hanging,” he said.

In her petition for review, Hontiveros said allowing Mrs. Arroyo to run for Congress violated the Constitution.

Macalintal: SC decision expected

Mrs. Arroyo’s lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, said the SC ‘s decision dismissing the petition of Hontiveros was expected.

“From the very start we have no doubt that the President is qualified to run and there’s no legal or factual basis to grant the Hontiveros petition,” he said.

Macalintal said the Constitution only prohibits a president from seeking reelection, not running for another post.

“The Constitution allows a sitting president to run for other positions,” he said.

“The Comelec did not commit any grave abuse of discretion in denying Ms. Hontiveros’s petition.

“I already informed by phone President Arroyo about the SC’s verdict and she’s glad that it’s over.”

Hontiveros: I will appeal ruling

Hontiveros said she will ask the SC to reconsider its decision dismissing the disqualification case against Mrs. Arroyo.

“I am deeply saddened by the decision, but I shall not rest my case,” she said.

“I will file a motion for reconsideration immediately. It paves the way for a Villarroyo regime.

“The SC is essentially saying that the President can run for a lower position even if there is a bar for her reelection in our Constitution.

“This ruling has serious implications in the future. This will cause severe and lasting injury to our democracy.”

Hontiveros said the ruling would give Mrs. Arroyo more leeway in terms of abusing her privileges as president.

“A greater abuse exists when the President herself is allowed to run,” she said.

“She can convert the entire government into her own political machinery. She definitely has vast powers at her disposal to ensure her victory.

“This is the very reason that she is forbidden to run as president in the next elections. This is also the underlying reason for the recent reversal of the decision of the SC on appointive officials.”

‘GMA not keen to be speaker’

President Arroyo is not keen to be the next speaker of the House of Representatives, according to senior provincial board member Lilia “Baby” Pineda, a known Arroyo ally.

Pineda said Mrs. Arroyo will run for Congress in the second district of Pampanga because she wants to serve not only Pampanga but also nearby provinces and the whole country.

If elected to Congress, Mrs. Arroyo could easily attract more foreign investors to the country, she added.

Pineda said more foreign investors mean more jobs for Filipinos.

“Mrs. Arroyo wants to see the development of Clark Freeport and Diosdado Macapagal International Airport,” she said.

Mrs. Arroyo will run for Congress because she has unfinished projects at Clark Freeport that she wants to continue, Pineda said.

Pineda was recently declared the rightful winner in the gubernatorial race in the 2007 elections by the Comelec Second Division.

After the recount of votes, the Comelec declared Pineda won by 2011 votes against Gov. Ed Panlilio. -- Edu Punay, Marvin Sy, Delon Porcalla, Ric Sapnu

ARROYO COMELEC HONTIVEROS MRS MRS. ARROYO PINEDA PRESIDENT PRESIDENT ARROYO RUN
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