EX-JUSTICE CHIEF SAYS:
    GMA’s House bid up to her

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    CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – Former justice minister Estelito Mendoza said the matter of President Macapagal-Arroyo’s running for Congress is best left to her to decide.

    But he shared the insight of former presidential candidate and Nationalist People’s Coalition president Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. on a similar issue.

    “What I can only say is that, because I know this for a fact, when Ambassador Cojuangco ran as president and he unfortunately did not win, on occasions I would ask him whether he wants to run for governor of Negros or Tarlac or for the Senate. He said ‘No. I ran for the highest position in the government. I don’t think I should run for a lesser position,’” he said.

    Punto Central Luzon interviewed Mendoza, formerly the solicitor general during the Marcos era and governor of Pampanga from 1980 to 1986, before the unveiling on Tuesday of the portraits of the province’s 25 governors since 1896. 

    In his view, there is “no disqualification” for Ms Arroyo to seek a seat in the House immediately after her term ends in June 2010.

    “Maybe the President is still young enough and has many more years. She thinks she can serve. That is for the people of the second district to decide,” he said.

    Ms. Arroyo’s supposed plan to seek a seat in Congress became the subject of speculations and suspicions following her 14 visits in the second district since Feb. 24 this year. She has not confirmed or denied such a plan.

    Mendoza said the “question of propriety” of running for Congress is hers as well.

    “I don’t mind if she seeks Congress with her wealth of experience. Whether it’s appropriate, that’s her personal judgment,” he further said.

    In the situation of former President Joseph Estrada who plans to seek a reelection if the opposition fails to field a common candidate in the 2010 elections, Mendoza said “two basic questions” will have to be settled.

    “The Constitution says he cannot run for the same office. But it does not say [if that’s for the] immediate election. Is he disqualified? He was pardoned (for his plunder conviction). That restored his civil or political rights,” Mendoza said.

    According to him, the possible reelection bid of Estrada is “more of a political decision on his part,” referring to the latter’s intent to unite the opposition.”

    “But it’s premature to speculate about his plan,” he added.


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