Prime Minister Arroyo? GMA not interested, says lawyer

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 10 2018 04:19 PM | Updated as of Jan 10 2018 09:45 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is not positioning herself to become a prime minister, her former lawyer said Wednesday, as Congress is set to deliberate on a proposed shift to a federal-parliamentary system.

Arroyo, who is serving her third and final term as Pampanga representative, has “no such ambition,” said lawyer Raul Lambino, administrator of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority.

Last year, the former president joined the ruling PDP-Laban party.

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Lambino acknowledged there had been speculations about Arroyo’s role in a federal-parliamentary set-up, which is being pushed by PDP-Laban.

But he said critics were only floating Arroyo’s supposed plan to become prime minister to invite more opposition to changing the constitution. 

“Kilala naman natin ang pagkatao ni President Arroyo. Hindi ganun ang character nya. Wala syang vested interest dito,”” said Lambino, who also pushed for charter change during the Arroyo administration.

(We all know President Arroyo. It's out of character for her. She has no vested interest in this.)

Concerns were raised over the real motive of revising the constitution following a proposal to abolish Congress and give President Rodrigo Duterte temporary legislative powers until a new federal congress is convened.

But other congressmen also floated the idea of holding no midterm elections next year, and allowing incumbent lawmakers to remain in power, to allow Congress, convened as a constituent assembly, to draft a new federal constitution.

A no-election scenario is meant as an “incentive” to gather support from legislators with expiring terms in 2019, said Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin.

“Hindi ito matatanggap ng taumbayan,” he told ANC’s Early Edition.

(The people will not accept that.)

The ruling party wants to hold elections next year under a new federal constitution, said Lambino, who is also PDP-Laban’s vice president for international affairs.

“This is the position of PDP-Laban,” he said, citing its political think tank’s draft constitution submitted to Congress. “There will be elections in 2019.”

Political science professor Edmund Tayao, who helped draft the PDP-Laban version, said discussions should focus on “the reasons why you’re changing the system and form of government.”