, January 1, 2003 (STAR) 
By Marichu Villanueva  - Who says President Arroyo is a "lame duck" president?

Presidential Spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao insists that she is a "soaring eagle."

Tiglao was adamant in dismissing the "lame duck" tag on Mrs. Arroyo, which came up after she announced on Monday her decision not to run in the May 2004 presidential elections.

"President Arroyo is powerful. The powers of the presidency in the Philippines are never diminished just because he or she is not able to run for re-election," Tiglao argued.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the incumbent president is prohibited from seeking re-election at the end of the six-year term.

However, in the case of Mrs. Arroyo, she is eligible to run because, as the country‘s duly elected Vice President, she just took over the reins of government from former President Joseph Estrada when he was ousted from office after the EDSA II people power revolution in January 2001.

Tiglao, a graduate of a short-term course in Harvard University in the United States, explained that the term "lame duck" has American origins.

A "lame duck" leader, he explained, is one whose powers are marginalized or weakened. This situation, he said, could not be said about Mrs. Arroyo’s remaining 18 months in office.

"She remains a powerful figure and her role or her position has been enhanced as visionary now," Tiglao emphasized, adding that this was the first time that a political leader like Mrs. Arroyo took this ultimate personal sacrifice for the sake of national unity.

"I think rather than skepticism, she deserves our praise," he insisted.

Tiglao also lamented that it is saddening that politicians who doubted the President’s declaration are still demanding for a written commitment about her decision not to run in the 2004 polls.

"It was already in writing. She delivered that in a speech, copies of which were later distributed to the press. What more do they want? Do they want it notarized?" Tiglao retorted.

He was particularly reacting to the demand of deposed leader Estrada for the President to sign a so-called "covenant with the people" that she would indeed not run in 2004.

This, he said, is to dispel the alleged precedent set by her father, former President Diosdado Macapagal, who, as leader of the Liberal Party (LP), supposedly promised to give way to his party’s presidential aspirant and then Senate President Ferdinand Marcos but decided to run for re-election anyway in 1965. Marcos bolted to the rival Nacionalista Party and won the presidential race.

Tiglao said that this is not validated in Philippine history books but "only gimmicks" for the party switch as written in the Marcos autobiography book "For Every Tear, a Victory."

All rights reserved