Erap lawyers: No legal obstacles to an Estrada run

September 29, 2008

There’s no stopping former President Joseph Estrada, as far as legal obstacles go, from seeking the presidency in 2010 national elections.

This was the position taken by the legal counsels of the former leader, according to his son, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, who in turn, immediately rejected the idea of teaming up with his father for the presidential and vice presidential elections two years from now.

The senator denied any knowledge on being the possible running mate of the former President should he decide to make a new bid for the presidency.

Despite many arguments from anti-Estrada groups that the deposed president can no longer run for the presidency, his counsels, having studied the word and meaning, following the legal principles, of the proviso on the words “any reelection” that others claim bar Estrada from seeking the presidency again, have pointed out it is clear that “any reelection refers to the incumbent president, and not one who has already allowed a full presidential term to pass.

“President Estrada, if he runs, is not running for reelection, but a new election. Besides, he has only served for two years. We have studied all angles, and there should be no legal obstacles to his running for the same position,” the lawyers of Estrada with whom

Tribune spoke yesterday, said.

The younger Estrada took this same view, with the topic arising from the reports that showed the former president, in a Malacañang-commissioned confidential survey on the so-called “presidentiables”, had Estrada at the top of the heap in a six-way race.

“We have talked to legal luminaries already. Somehow, the majority are convinced that my father can still run for the presidency in 2004,” Senator Estrada said.

“But we cannot tell as yet (if he will run) because anything is possible. There were a lot of legal impediments that were floated earlier. We had consultations with some legal luminaries and I think majority of them are convinced that he can still run. In the end, it depends on my father if he still wants to run.

“He’s been saying every time that if the opposition will not unite, he will run. According to Sen. (Juan Ponce) Enrile, he’s still a potent force to reckon with,” he said.

The matter of the former leader doing the rounds all over the country should not be misconstrued as campaigning, the senator said, stressing that it’s merely a show of appreciation of his father for the continuing support showed by his followers.

While there are those questioning the qualification of the former president standing as candidate for the same position he held or a position from which he was ousted, Senator Estrada said the matter is best addressed and resolved before the proper authority.

“I am not to judge (whether he’s qualified to run). It’s the courts and the people who will decide on that. The final arbiter is the Supreme Court,” he said.

He, however, expressed belief that the former leader is not prohibited from running for the presidency.

“It is in his blood to serve our people, especially the Filipino masses. If there is a clamor for him to run, who is he to refuse?” The senator pointed out. “He is a survey believer, of course,” he added.

Senator Estrada remained mum on the possibility of his joining the vice presidential derby although there had been persistent reports on his eyeing this position as there had been speculations the could end up running with Senate President Manuel Villar Jr.

“(I’m thinking of seeking) re-election as of now,” he stressed.

The former leader, who has not declared any plan to run for the presidency in 2010, and who has even said that all he wants is for the opposition to unite behind one single presidential candidate, nevertheless obtained a 23 percent rating.

Earlier, during an interview for a program in GMA TV, the former president reiterated that if the opposition fails to unite behind a single presidential candidate, and if the people clamor for him to run, he may run for the same position in 2010.

“I would like to unite the opposition to ensure the victory of the opposition. But the problem is, if they don’t do as I envision them to be united, who am I to refuse the people if they clamor (for me to run for the presidency)?” Estrada replied to the interviewers question.

Meanwhile, with the talk of Charter change getting stronger, presidential deputy spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said the Palace will make certain there will be a smooth, peaceful turnover of leadership by 2010.

Earlier, it was reported in the media that a US think tank, New York based Global Source which published in Sept.26 a paper entitled, “Minifields On The Road To 2010” expressed the view that President Arroyo will remain a lameduck in her remaining years in Malacanang but that this status can be thwarted through a Charter change initiative, which the think tank said was a “no-lose strategy for the leadership.”

Fajardo said, in commenting to the Global Source paper, “the President is the most hardworking person in government. And although the President respects everyone’s right to criticize, at the end of the day, what matters is that she gets the job done. We have to recognize that the presidency is a dignified and distinguished institution and must be accorded due respect.” With Angie M. Rosales and Riza Recio

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