Erap reiterates ‘last option’ in 2010 presidential race

By RENO T. TALLADA, ABS-CBN News Central Visayas

Posted at Mar 04 2009 12:23 AM | Updated as of Mar 04 2009 08:23 AM

Despite the scorching heat, residents of Consolacion town in Cebu province flocked to their public market to meet and greet former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada in his “Lakbay Pasasalamat” to the province.

Together with some politicians identified with the opposition, Estrada visited some municipalities of Cebu to extend his gratitude to people who, he said, have remained supportive and dedicated to him, especially during his imprisonment.

Loud cheers from the crowd welcomed Estrada before his speech. Most of the people applauded and were heard encouraging the former president to be back in Malacañang Palace.

Estrada, in his speech at a program held during the activity, he emotionally recounted his experience on leaving the presidency in 2001. He said that his primary reason of stepping down from office was to prevent more bloodshed to his avid supporters.

The activity was also attended by some who have already showed interest in running in the next 2010 elections or are being reportedly urged to run. Among them were Gina De Venecia, wife of former House speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.; Grace Poe-Llamanzares, daughter of late ex-presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr.; Senator Loren Legarda and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay. Binay has already declared that he would vie to be the opposition bloc's presidential contender.

During the program, speakers discussed the issue of fraud that allegedly happened in previous elections. According to the speakers, the province of Cebu was the seat of the electoral fraud. They also said however they wanted to disprove the notion that Cebu is a pro-administration.

In an interview, Legarda declared that she has always been ready to run in the next 2010 elections, although she has explicitly specify as to whether it would be for vice president again or president this time around.

Legarda also said she is optimistic that the 2010 elections will have lesser fraud issues considering that it will be done through automated voting. But then, she said that they will be more vigilant this time for they have already learned their lesson.

When asked if he would run in the 2010 elections, Estrada reiterated his previous statements that if the opposition will not be unified on who to endorse as president, he will be forced to run as president. “That will be the last option,” said Estrada.

And his message for his detractors, “Mas marunong na tayo ngayon, hindi na nila tayo madaling pababain.”

Estrada’s “Lakbay Pasasalamat” also visited Lilo-an town.