2009 (MALAYA) BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR -  ‘Let others do job on Erap’

MALACANANG officials yesterday said the Arroyo administration will not initiate any legal challenge to the eligibility of former President Joseph Estrada to run again for president next year as they said there are others quarters raring to do the job.

Secretary to the Cabinet Silvestre Bello III and Press Undersecretary Anthony Golez said they expect many organizations and even opposition members themselves to raise the issue before the Commission on Elections and the courts after Estrada files his certificate of candidacy.

"The issue of his eligibility for another run for the presidency is also an issue that is widely known to the public and I am sure the moment he files his certificate of candidacy with his vice presidentiable, there will be a deluge of petitions to have him disqualified, especially coming from the opposition. Let the courts decide and let the people decide," Bello said.

As far a Comelec is concerned, there is no stopping Estrada from filing his certificate of candidacy between November 20 and 30.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said it is ministerial for the poll body to accept Estrada’s certificate of candidacy.

"Right now, it seems, he is qualified kasi walang nagko-contest sa kanyang application. Hindi naman natin pwede pangunahan. The presumption is he is qualified," Melo told reporters.

"If there’s an opposition sa kanyang application, then that’s the time we will look into it. It will become a case before us… We’ll probably touch on that when the time comes," Melo said.

Estrada said he welcomes all legal challenges to his candidacy and expects the issue to find its way to the Supreme Court.

He also said the Comelec has the ministerial job of accepting his certificate of candidacy, adding he is confident the poll body will not declare him a nuisance candidate.

President Arroyo’s election lawyer Romulo Macalintal reiterated that Estrada’s run for the presidency is prohibited under the Constitution.

Macalintal sought to debunk Estrada’s claim that he is not precluded from running anew for the top executive post since the constitutional ban against reelection applies only to the incumbent.

"Estrada’s contention that the prohibition applies only to the incumbent is untenable. The provision does not distinguish between incumbent or past presidents, hence it applies to all elected presidents like Erap and (Fidel) Ramos," said Macalintal.

Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said Estrada is a "formidable opponent" as he remains popular and well-loved by the masses

"I hope that Lakas-Kampi strategists will take note of that because former President Estrada is a strong candidate. He’s an absolute threat," Zubiri said.

Zubiri also said the administration party Lakas-Kampi-CMD will not contest the candidacy of Estrada before the courts.

Six members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) expressed dismay at Estrada’s comeback bid, pointing out his proposal to legalize jueteng, the illegal number game.

"It is a very bad move to legalize jueteng. He should not run for president if this is his thinking," said Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes over Radio Veritas.

Echoing the same sentiment over the Church-run radio were Manila Auxilliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Bulacan Bishop Jose Oliveros, Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop emeritus Oscar Cruz and Catarman Bishop Emmanuel Trance – With Gerard Naval, Ashzel Hachero, Evangeline de Vera and JP Lopez

Sonny fears Estrada may be disqualified (The Freeman) Updated October 23, 2009 12:00 AM

CEBU, Philippines - Former Senator John “Sonny” Osmeña said he is worried many voters in the country may be disenfranchised if they vote for ousted president Joseph “Erap” Estrada and he is disqualified from running again for president.

Estrada has already declared his intention to join the presidential race in 2010 teaming up with Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay as his running mate.

Osmeña is worried that Estrada may be disqualified and this decision may only come out two to three days before the elections.

“Nahadlok ko nga siya ma-disqualified ug kana mahitabo duha o tulo ka adlaw ante sa eleksyon nga dili na mausab ang mga porma, ang mga tawo nga mobotar unya niya, dili maihap ang mga boto, so, in effect, kanang mga tawhana ma-disenfranchise gyud unya botante man na sa oposisyon, mawad-an ta ug dakong pahat sa mga botante,” Osmeña said.

The former senator, being a friend of Estada, advised Erap not to push through with his plan and support the candidates of the opposition instead.

Osmeña was an ally of Estrada during his incumbency until the former president was convicted for plunder and imprisoned.

Estrada was released from detention after President Gloria Arroyo granted him executive clemency. One of the clauses in the executive clemency granted to the convicted president prohibits him from running for any elective post.

But the camp of the former president insisted that Estrada did not serve his full six-year term and his removal from office is said to be unconstitutional.

The former senator said that Erap is still his friend but he believed that the deposed president can no longer seek reelection after he was ousted by people power.

This is the reason why Osmeña decided to support the presidential bid of Sen. Noynoy Aquino in tandem with Sen. Mar Roxas. — Elly Bolonos/BRP (FREEMAN NEWS)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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