LOREN LOOKS BEYOND THE VICE RPESIDENCY

Mabalacat, Pampanga, March 26, 2003 --  Sen. Loren Legarda wants Malacaņang
to decide way before December who would be the administration coalition's
presidential bet in 2004.

And she is asking voters not to count her out yet in the presidential race
amid the common belief that she is settling for the vice presidency.

"I have always been thought of as being interested only in the vice
presidency because I have been topping surveys on vice presidentiables, but
I have not closed the possibility of my running for the highest office,"
Legarda said in an interview after speaking before the graduates of the
Jose Feliciano College here yesterday.

Earlier, President Arroyo urged members of the administration party to
express their interest to become the presidential standard bearer up to
December.

Former Sen. Raul Roco, who has already declared his intention to run for
president in 2004, was believed to have sought the blessings of Malacanaņg
during his recent meeting with the President.

Both Mrs. Arroyo and Roco, however, denied that the meeting had anything to
do with his political plans.

"December (as deadline for choosing the presidential candidate) is a bit
too late for the President's endorsement of a candidate. It takes time to
organize, to raise funds, to mount a nationwide campaign," Legarda said.

She added: "It is important for the administration party to engage in a
selection process soon so that the leaders in the local and grassroots
level would also know where they should stand and whom they would be
rallying behind."

Legarda said she has not yet declared that she would run for president, and
that she might opt to run for vice president or even seek re-election as
senator.

She said she would announce her decision soon.

"The best preparation would be to continue doing a good job," she said.

She added that she has been "going around the country to meet with
officials and local folk as the best way to feel the pulse of the people
and find out where they want me and what they want me to do." ((By Ding
Cervantes, Star)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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