MANILA, January 4, 2003 (STAR)  By Perseus Echeminada  - The Quezon City regional trial court has been asked the question now baffling political pundits: Can a former president of the Republic of the Philippines run again?

This question was asked of the court by former Ifugao governor Amado Almazan (Lakas), who told the weekly Balitaan sa Rembrandt Hotel forum in Quezon City that he wants the lower court to clarify the provision in the 1987 Constitution setting a limit of one term on all presidents elected under the current Charter.

Article 7, Section 4 of the Constitution states: "The president shall not be eligible for any re-election. No person who has succeeded as president and served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time."

Almazan, accompanied by Lakas media bureau director Gualberto Lumauig, said the court’s clarification on the issue would benefit former Presidents Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos and even Joseph Estrada.

Lumauig and Almazan also admitted at the forum that Ramos is still a candidate to reckon with in Lakas and said Ramos will surely win in the elections because of his track record as president from 1992 to 1998.

The two Lakas stalwarts said it was during Ramos’ term that the peace accord between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was drawn up and peace talks with communist rebels were initiated. They also cited the country’s economic growth during Ramos’ term.

"But, in fairness to the former president, he has repeatedly said he will not be seeking re-election," Lumauig said.

According to Lumauig, though Ramos has consistently denied that he is seeking re-election, his name continues to crop up – "an indicator that the people still want him to serve again as president."

In his petition to the court, Almazan said the Constitutional provision limiting all presidents to a single six-year term is vague. "The above mentioned provision of the Constitution is ambiguous and is open to interpretation resulting in the controversies and disturbing power play/maneuverings within and among political parties, which may in turn weaken and erode the stability of our political system."

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