Arroyo can run for Congress after 2010: Comelec official

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jun 16 2009 08:36 PM | Updated as of Jun 17 2009 04:36 AM

MANILA - President Arroyo can legally run for Congress after her presidential term ends in 2010, a senior official of the election commission said Wednesday.

"Is it OK for the president to run for a lower position? Absolutely," said Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez.

"Why not? There's no legal impediment to a (former) president seeking any other position. She can run for (town) councilor if that is her pleasure," Jimenez said.

He told a church forum that Arroyo's running for Congress after her term ends in 2010 would involve "more of an ethical rather than a legal issue," since her presidential status would give her an advantage over an opponent.

Arroyo's six-year term as an elected president ends in 2010 and the Philippine constitution bars her from seeking another term.

Vice president to Joseph Estrada, Arroyo first became president 2001 after Estrada was ousted in a popular uprising, and she won her first elected term in 2004.

However, some of her allies have dropped hints she could run for Congress, perhaps in her home province of Pampanga, north of Manila.

Critics charge that this is part of Arroyo's ploy to cling to power.

They also suspect that Arroyo wants to have the Constitution changed to a parliamentary form of government so that she can be installed as prime minister.

Earlier this month, Philippine lawmakers allied to Arroyo passed a resolution to amend the constitution, a move that critics say is the first step to allowing her another term as president.