LIPA CITY, December 22, 2003  (MANILA TIMES) By Moneth Deposa, Researcher - After months of contemplation and consultations, Mayor Vilma Santos-Recto officially announced on Friday her plan to seek her third and last term as mayor of this city.

Santos, a two-term mayor of the city, admitted to a large crowd that gathered in her family’s LPL compound that she had considered three options before coming out with a final decision: to run for governor, to run again as mayor, and not to run at all.

“Among the three options, I chose the second. I want to run again and finish my last term as mayor of Lipa,” Santos said.

Her declaration was cheered by hundreds of supporters composed mostly of Lipanueños from various sectors.

The mayor admitted she received several overtures from different camps urging her to run for governor.

“When President Arroyo was here the last time, she asked me to run for governor because she believed I can unite the mayors in the province,” Santos said, recalling their conversation inside a car.

The movie star turned politician said the time is not yet ripe for her to take a higher post. “Pinag-aralan kong mabuti kung saan ako mas higit na magiging epektibo at dumating ako sa desisyong ito. Gusto ko naman pong makitang matapos ang mga proyektong isinulong natin ng anim na taon,” Santos said.

“I want to make it clear that my top priority is still my family. And managing the whole of Batangas is no joke, she said. The province has 34 municipalities, three cities and 1,268 barangays.

The mayor said her husband, Sen. Ralph Recto, had initially encouraged her to run for governor, telling her the job is easier because she has to deal only with the mayors of cities and municipalities.

“I made my decision after we talked and discussed each option’s pros and cons. I am happy that my husband’s last words was ‘Vi, kung san ka komportable at sa palagay mo magiging epektibo ka I will respect and support your decision,” the mayor recalled.

“I want my projects to get finished. I want to graduate as mayor with a diploma,” Santos said.

The mayor also expressed her support to the candidacy of Don Linatoc, Rowena Africa and Mark Leviste for the Sangguniang Panglalawigan.

Ricky Recto, who was also among the guests in the proclamation rally, told The Manila Times the path is now clear for his family to declare him as their candidate for governor.

“I am very determined to run as governor whatever happens. I’m just keeping my silence as a part of our political strategy,” he said.

Recto refused to comment on his reported threat to bolt the Lakas-CMD party in case former Justice Secretary Nani Perez is named the party’s official candidate for governor.

“I hope they will make the right choice,” he said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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