AUGUST 10, 2009 (PHILIPPINE  STAR) By Ding Cervantes (The Philippine Star) - President Arroyo is scheduled to visit this town today, further fueling speculations that she is solidifying her political base to represent the congressional district in next year’s elections.

The regional office of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), in an advisory yesterday, said the President would be visiting Barangays Rizal, Magsaysay, Lambac and San Agustin in this town.

Mrs. Arroyo made a visit here last July 15 before she flew to the US to meet with President Barack Obama.

It would be Mrs. Arroyo’s 20th visit here amid persistent reports that she is planning to run for Congress in the 2010 elections to represent the congressional district of the province.

Mrs. Arroyo would make the visit in the wake of the damage left by typhoon “Kiko” that left many areas and towns of the province underwater.

“It might subside if the weather improves but this will also depend on whether we will have high or low tide,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

The PIA advisory said Mrs. Arroyo is expected this afternoon in Barangay Rizal to inspect a proposed a 300-meter barangay road improvement project leading to her hometown in Lubao.

In Barangay Magsaysay, Mrs. Arroyo is scheduled to inspect the ongoing laying of extension pipes for the local water system, while in Barangay Lambac she will also observe the cleanup and de-clogging of roadside canals under the Organized Youth Stewards of Esteros and Rivers or Oyster project, the PIA said.

The President will then proceed to the Chapel of the Risen Lord in Sitio Virgin de los Remedios in Barangay San Agustin where she would be welcomed by San Fernando Archbishop Paciano Aniceto.

Mrs. Arroyo would confer the Presidential Medal of Merit on ecclesiastical sculptor Willy Layug, a native of this town.

Last Aug. 6, Mrs. Arroyo visited the town of Sasmuan. During the gathering, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo urged his mother to serve the province even after she finishes her term in 2010.

“Madam President, your townmates in Pampanga love you very much. This is your home after your term ends as President,” Rep. Arroyo told the crowd during the President’s visit.

Prof. Randy David, a native of Guagua, had declared his plans to run against Mrs. Arroyo should she decide to seek the congressional post in the second district.

But another group is reportedly urging another “charismatic priest” to run against Mrs. Arroyo in the congressional elections.

Administration allies, however, repeatedly defended Mrs. Arroyo on her supposed plans to seek a congressional seat.

They said there is nothing in the law to prevent her from seeking a lower elective position.

Critics alleged Mrs. Arroyo is planning to seek a congressional seat in the effort to stay in power beyond her mandate in the hope of becoming prime minister should efforts to amend the Constitution for a parliamentary form of government succeed.

Mrs. Arroyo has remained mum about her plans, further triggering speculations on her political moves for 2010.

Even during her last State of the Nation Address (SONA) last month, critics said Mrs. Arroyo did not categorically rule out her plans to stay out of politics beyond 2010. – With Ric Sapnu

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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