JUNE 19, 2009 (STAR) By Sandy Araneta and Marvin Sy - Former President Fidel Ramos told President Arroyo yesterday not to delude the people “with titillations” on the constituent assembly (con-ass) and that she should make her plans for the 2010 elections clear.

“With precious time fleeting, PGMA (President Arroyo) must now make a clear and positive declaration to our people that she as President will transform herself and the nation, and not anymore delude our people, in particular her select circle of congressional cronies and family advisers, with titillations about con-ass and her future role as a Pampanga representative come July 1, 2010,” Ramos said in a speech during the 1st Adel Tamano Leadership Forum at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.

Tamano is PLM president.

Manila Mayor and opposition leader Alfredo Lim also attended the forum.

Ramos said “dictatorships, monopolies, and dynasties do not endure. Neither do self-serving and distrusted national leaders.”

He said the unrest in the country showed that the people want change.

“The street protests by cause-oriented groups and ordinary Filipinos plus their manifestations of discontent, anger and outrage towards the PGMA administration must be seen as the people’s hunger for freedom from poverty, deprivation and bad governance,” Ramos said.

He said the immediate tasks for the leadership are easing poverty, improving the economy, and strengthening democratic institutions, particularly the electoral process.

“As the elected President, who is also the chief executive and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, Arroyo should lead in the mobilization of human resources and other equally valuable assets to maximize such a relentless and total effort in order to achieve the desired outcomes,” Ramos said.

“In other words, the President should not become so inutile as a controversial and unfocused leader, to the extent of being seen as the core of our problems,” he said.

Ramos cited the need for self-sacrifice over vested interests, and an end to divisiveness in order for the country to move forward.

“But if not much change is happening now – because Arroyo has failed to harness the opportunities afforded her in the past eight years of her presidency – then our people must persist in their pursuit of a better future,” the former president said.

He likened the country’s top position to a juggler performing delicate tasks with dexterity. “But as chief executive and commander-in-chief, she must perform with greater agility and skill than the ordinary circus juggler, whose feet are on the ground,” he said.

“More importantly, the president must never fall off from uncoordinated movements, panic or lack of focus – because the whole nation will also crash with her/him,” Ramos said.

“The President still on the highwire may be riding a bicycle, while still balancing the critical issues whose number may increase because of outside forces,” he said.

“That is how difficult and complex it is to be in the hot seat or pressure cooker called Malacañang,” he added.

Ramos also said “it is not too late yet for the President to transform, transcend, and transfigure so that she becomes an object of admiration, instead of vilification.”

“Achieving the people’s aspiration of a better quality of life and for the Philippines to regain a position of respect and dignity in the community of nations – a position which we once occupied – is our collective responsibility to the coming generations, to our children and grandchildren,” he said.

“That is why – in a democracy – the country’s business is every citizen’s business,” he pointed out.

“Only through our total commitment to such a principled way of working, living and leading can we hope to achieve sustainable economic development, social harmony, and enduring peace for our beloved Philippines,” he said.

Respect her decision

So what if President Arroyo decides to run for Congress when she steps down next year?

For Malacañang, it’s perfectly all right and whatever decision she makes should be respected.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita reiterated that no one in the Cabinet is aware of the plans of the President after 2010.

He said the President’s family may be more aware of what she intends to do after her term.

Presidential son Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo earlier hinted at the likelihood of his mother aspiring for a House seat.

The younger Arroyo admitted that he is considering stepping aside as Pampanga’s second district representative to run for governor, and pave the way for his mother’s taking over his congressional seat.

“Congressman Mikey Arroyo definitely has his own political plans and as you said, he said he might run for governor,” Ermita said.

“First of all, I want to premise my statement that I have not really discussed this with the President or with anyone in the Cabinet,” he added.

“Our bases for discussions are the things we read in media. But I don’t suppose we should really fault anybody for aspiring for certain positions and I guess this also has something to do with the issue about Cha-cha (charter change) and the way forward for Cha-cha,” he added.

Ermita pointed out that the critics of the President have not aired any complaints about similar declarations made by politicians and some private individuals of their political plans.

“I would wish that we just respect the aspirations of people in the same manner that right now we have some people who are quite open about wanting to run for national office such as the presidency,” Ermita said.

“I think it’s important that we should let our people understand that anyone can have their own aspirations, what their future plans are in politics and I think we should just respect them,” he added.

Ermita also said that he could not understand why some people were criticizing the President for her frequent visits to her home province of Pampanga.

“It is the job of the President to let the people know that she is hands on as far as the implementation of projects is concerned,” he said.

“We should not control or constrict the movement of the President who, as the head of state, has all the reasons for moving around to ensure that the projects intended for our people are implemented well,” Ermita said.

“I believe the President is well within her rights to prepare for the future even if we don’t know about it and she has not said anything about it,” he added.

He also emphasized that there is no legal impediment to the President’s running for any other elective posts.

Propriety should not be an issue either as such is not being used against the other aspirants, he said.

“Why should we stop people and their aspirations? I don’t even have to mention here that there are a lot of presidential aspirants making their moves, making themselves visible and they have their own reasons for doing so,” Ermita said.

“And so I think we should give that much space also for the President. That the other former presidents are not doing it does not mean the present president should not do it,” he added.

He argued that if ever the President runs for Congress, this should even be considered as an act of humility since she would be vying for a lower position just to continue serving her constituents.


FVR to Gloria: We must hear it from you, says protests show anger of the people BY ASHZEL HACHERO

(MALAYA) FORMER President Fidel Ramos wants to hear it straight from President Arroyo how she stands on Charter Change and whether she will run for Congress when her term ends in June 2010.

"PGMA must make a clear and positive declaration that she, as President will transform herself and the nation and not delude our people and her select circle of congressional cronies and family advisers with titillations about Charter Change, Con-Ass and her future role as Pampanga representative come July 2010," Ramos told a leadership forum at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Manila (PLM).

Ramos warned Arroyo to beware of the public’s anger and discontent.

"The street protests by cause-oriented groups and ordinary Filipinos plus their manifestations of discontent, anger, and outrage towards the administration must be seen as people’s hunger for freedom from poverty, deprivation, and bad governance," he said.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said there is no need for the President to state in black and white her political plans beyond 2010.

"There’s no such thing as official statement from the Palace or from the President about it. No one is authorized in behalf of the President and I am the presidential spokesman, but we never discussed it," he said.

He said if Malacañang officials had denied any supposed plans of the President to run for Congress in 2010 it is on the basis that it was never discussed, much more mentioned in Malacañang particularly in official activities.

Sen. Edgardo Angara, an administration ally, called on Arroyo and Vice President Noli de Castro to step down if they intend to run in 2010.

The Comelec has set Nov. 30 as the deadline for the filing of certificate of candidacy for the May 2010 elections.

Angara, in pushing for the approval of his Senate Bill 904 which he filed in 2007, says candidates holding elective office, whether national or local, running for public office other than the elective position which he is holding in a permanent capacity should be considered resigned from his office upon filing for candidacy.

However, the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines or B.P. 881, states that except for the positions of President and Vice President, an elective official running for a public office should be regarded resigned from office upon filing of certificate of candidacy.

There have been talks that the President might run for Congress to represent the second district of Pampanga after she steps down in June.

De Castro, on the other hand, is mum on his political plans for next year.

Sen. Francis Escudero, in a forum, warned the administration might use the failure of elections in 2010 to extend the President’s term if the planned Constituent Assembly fails to gain steam.

"I think the game plan of the administration, first option is Con-Ass. Failing on that, failure of elections unless the Commission on Elections can explain to me and you during the hearing and convince me that indeed they can do it (poll automation). I hope they can," Escudero said. – With JP Lopez and Jocelyn Montemayor

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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