NEWSFLASH

CHOOSE 2004 CANDIDATES LATER, LAKAS URGED

MANILA, January 1, 2003 (STAR) By Efren Danao  - The administration coalition should wait until the election period before embarking on a search on who should succeed President Arroyo as presidential candidate in 2004, Sen. Francis Pangilinan urged yesterday.

This was echoed by Senate Majority Leader Loren Legarda, who urged all sectors to set aside partisan politics to focus more on reviving the economy.

The election period is three months before and after the campaign period. The 90-day presidential campaign will start in February 2004, so the election period should be in November 2003.

Earlier, Mrs. Arroyo said she would make known her own choice for presidential candidate in December 2003.

Pangilinan, a member of the majority coalition, warned that the much needed economic and political reforms might be relegated to the sidelines if personalities and parties remain obsessed with the 2004 presidential elections.

"The obsession of some quarters with the 2004 elections should be shelved and focus should be made on economic and political reforms," he said.

"The people want results in good governance, not political maneuverings and jockeying for positions," Pangilinan stressed.

There are already speculations on potential presidential candidates of the majority coalition with the President deciding not to run in 2004. Among those prominently mentioned were former senator Raul Roco, a consistent No. 1 in surveys, Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Senate President Pro Tempore Juan Flavier, Sen. Noli de Castro, and Legarda.

Legarda agreed on the need to keep partisan politics out of the way for the moment and concentrate instead on unifying the country and instituting vital reforms.

"We must unite and support the President, and set aside partisan politics to focus more on reviving the economy," she said.

Legarda urged all leaders to concentrate on what reforms they should undertake to make the country strong.

Opposition Sen. Edgardo Angara had said that talking about probable candidates is a healthy exercise in a democratic society as it enables the electorate to discuss the qualifications of the candidates.


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