Cebu City, Jan. 30, 2003 (Inquirer)- The administration party is strongly considering Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. as its standard bearer in the 2004 elections.

Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Joey Rufino, also a top leader of the administration party Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), said they were looking at Davide "with very much interest and we feel, he is also a very good material to lead the country.'' Rufino said Davide's integrity and track record as leader of the Supreme Court made him a strong presidential candidate.

He also pointed out that that Davide has a good chance of winning because he is from the Visayas.

"I think Chief Justice Davide, coming from the Visayas, makes (him) a strong possibility of being a candidate because the region is big and the Cebuano-speaking voting population (is also big),'' he said.

Davide could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He had repeatedly said he had no political ambitions.

He had told reporters that he planned to go back to his hometown in Argao, Cebu, and live a life of a farmer and a writer once he retires from the judiciary in 2005 at age 70.

The Inquirer called up the house of Davide's family at the Capitol Site in Cebu City. A relative who answered the phone said Davide had instructed them not to talk to reporters especially on any political issue.

But she stressed that Davide has remained firm in his decision not to run for any elective post.

Cebu governor Pablo Garcia, Lakas-NUCD provincial chair, said Davide would get the support of the Cebuanos if he decided to run.

But he said he would have to wait for the announcement of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on her choice for president before he could give any commitment.

The other possible standard bearers being considered by the ruling party were Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senators Loren Legarda, Noli de Castro, Ramon Magsaysay and Juan Flavier.

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