MANILA - Former President Fidel V. Ramos lashed out at hints of President Arroyo perpetuating herself in power beyond 2010.
“Going up to the summit is optional. But coming down is mandatory,” he said in a forum on Thursday in Makati.
“You cannot stay at the top forever,” he added, citing a quote from Team Everest, whose members include the first Filipinos who climbed the 28,000 feet high Mount Everest.
Obviously referring to President Arroyo, whom he has criticized for the Charter change efforts of her allies in Congress, he said, in jest, “Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan huwag magalit [Those who feel alluded to should not get angry].”
Nonetheless, he said this should be good news to the 6 members of the panel who joined the 10th lecture series of the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation, which he chairs.
The 6, who people perceive as among the potential successors to President Arroyo, were Senators Francis Escudero, Richard Gordon, Loren Legarda, and Manuel Roxas; Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., and Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando.
Each aspirant was given a chance to present his or her respective programs for economic, social, and sustainable programs from 2010 to 2015, the term of the president who will win the elections next year.
He praised their presentations and answers to the questions from the audience during the open forum. “If this is the quality of our presidentiables, then I believe that, indeed, there is hope for our beloved Philippines.”
He said that members of the diplomatic corps, “who came here out of curiosity,” had given him feedback during the forum break.
“How they wish they have this type of quality in the opposition, as well as in the incumbent positions, in their own respective countries,” he shared.
He said that while the panel members are way younger than he was when he ran and won the 1992 presidential elections, “because of the clarity, the intellect and the substance of their presentations, instead of us in the audience forming a choice at this time as to whom to vote for and support in the elections of 2010, I myself, personally, as a bystander and as an intent listener, have found out that I should vote for all 6 of them."
President as juggler
Having been where the panel members wish to be in 2010, he gave them an advice. It came in the form of an analogy: The presidency is like a juggler.
“If you are the president of the Philippines…in these times, your feet is not just on high wire, but on a bicycle, juggling 10 balls or more, making sure you don’t fall off. Otherwise you will crash to the ground and the whole nation crashes with you.”
He said the juggling task should be in done in a “calm, relaxed, and harmonious manner.”