GMA FAVORS LAKAS CANDIDATE FOR 2004

Manila, Jan. 22, 2003 (Tribune) - Former Education Secretary Raul Roco may have only a slim chance of getting the administration's endorsement as standard-bearer for the 2004 presidential elections. President Arroyo appears to favor fielding a candidate from the ranks of the Lakas-Christian Muslim-Democrats (Lakas-CMD or formerly Lakas-NUCD).

"There is no paucity or shortage of materials for the presidency. Even among us tonight, there are several whose brilliance and track record of service to our people make them deserving of the party's attention and excitement," the President pointed out during a meeting held with members of the Lakas Directorate in Malacaņang the other night.

The affair was attended by former President Fidel Ramos, Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. and other heads of the party's regional districts.

Mrs. Arroyo reportedly also hinted that the possibility of endorsing Roco as Lakas standard-bearer was remote, saying the Lakas party has qualified candidates for the presidential race.

Roco had earlier severed his ties with the government after being accused of graft in having posters of himself printed at the education department.

"That sense of loyalty dictates upon each one of us to exercise organizational discipline and cohesion. While I am a non-candidate President, I will not prejudice our right and our need to have a winning standard-bearer in 2004," the Chief Executive said.


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