GMA to file COC today

    CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – President Arroyo is set to file here today  her certificate of candidacy (COC) for the congressional race in Pampanga’s second district, even as her son, Rep. Mikey Arroyo will withdraw from politics.

    This was disclosed in an exclusive interview with Punto over the weekend by former provincial board member Lilia Pineda, a close ally and friend of Mrs. Arroyo, as she also revealed that she is set to file today her COC for governor in next year’s elections, with Vice Gov. Joseller Guiao as her running mate. She said she will run under the banner of the merged Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

    This, even as presidential sister Cielo Macapagal-Salgado also told Punto in a text message she will not run against the President in the second district as proposed by Gov. Eddie Panlilio, chairman of the Liberal Party (LP) in this province.

    Pineda said, however, that the President plans to file her COC at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) provincial office on B. Mendoza St. here only through a representative.
    In a text message, the President’s election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the President need not personally file her COC.

    “The filing of COC shall be at the provincial election supervisor of Pampanga and cannot be done in Manila,” Macalintal said, noting that “a duly authorized representative can file the COC” in the President’s behalf, as he cited “a strong clamor from leaders of the second district for her to run there.”

    Pineda said that Mrs. Arroyo is expected on Monday to attend a Mass at the San Guillermo church in downtown Barangay San Nicolas in Lubao where both of them are registered voters, while her representative files her COC at the Comelec provincial office here.

    Asked what position Mikey would seek in next year’s elections, Pineda replied “none”. He is only on his second term as congressman representing the second district, but he apparently has given way to his mother.

    Mrs. Pineda called up Punto yesterday morning in response to an earlier request, conveyed through text message last Wednesday, for an interview.

    “It will be such a waste if the President withdraws from public service. She has the experience and has established connections abroad that can be used to benefit Pampanga,” she said.

    She declined to reveal when the President told her about her congressional plans, but noted that at the time Mrs. Arroyo started to frequently visit Pampanga since early this year, the President’s concern was merely to show gratitude to her “kabalens” in the province.

    Mrs. Pineda said the President had wanted to merely spend more time and attend to the needs of Kapampangans in the short remaining months of her term.

    Pineda said, however, that during the President’s sorties to barangays in this province, particularly in the second district, she realized that much more had to be done for their benefit. That was when the President decided to seek the congressional post in her district, she added.

    “Because of the connections she has established even abroad, the President will be an asset not only to Pampanga’s second district but even to other districts in the province, or even Central Luzon,” Pineda noted.

    Pineda said she heard reports that the LP has invited former Rep. Emigdio Lingad to run against the President in the second district, but Lingad declined to make any comment on this when interviewed during the visit of LP presidential aspirant Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino in Angeles City last Monday.

    Prof. Randy David, a native of Guagua town in the second district, earlier vowed to run against the President in the congressional race, but was later reported to have withdrawn his challenge.

    The other day, presidential elder sister Cielo Macapagal-Salgado sent a text message saying “I will not file my candidacy” although she did not say whether her brother Arthur Macapagal, whom she earlier pushed for the post, would run instead. She declined further interviews although earlier, she said she had a “fifty-fifty” inclination to Panlilio’s invitation for her to run against the President.

    At the same time, Pineda said that in running for governor, she is seeking to unify Pampanga which, she noted, has been fragmented under the term of Panlilio.

    While Pineda said she believed Panlilio will seek reelection and again be her opponent in next year’s gubernatorial race, Panlilio said in a text message yesterday that his party still had not decided on whom to field for governor.

    “I credit Among Ed (Panlilio) 100 percent for removing graft and corruption. That credit is owned him, but his administration was not able to do enough for the people because of disunity. He put his trust only in one person,” she said, referring to Panlilio’s provincial administrator Vivian Dabu who had been cited as reason by those who had left Panlilio’s camp.

    This, even as lawyer Filmer Abrajano, chief of staff of Sen. Lito Lapid who announced a month ago his plan to run for Pampanga governor, said Lapid opted to seek reelection under the Lakas-Kampi-CMD upon the request of the President.

    With Guiao, who also had announced gubernatorial plans, giving way to Pineda as her running mate, only the LP could give Pineda an opponent in the gubernatorial race.

    Pineda’s electoral protest against Panlilio is now up for resolution anytime by the second division of the Comelec after a recount of gubernatorial votes cast in 2007 in this province and a series of hearings that enabled all parties to file all pertinent documents.


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