MANILA - Don't expect former President Joseph Estrada to follow the example of Senator Manuel 'Mar' Roxas, who gave up his presidential bid on Tuesday in a bid to unify the opposition.
In a statement, United Opposition (UNO) spokesman and former Ambassador Ernesto Maceda said Roxas' decision to withdraw from the 2010 race "will have no bearing on the decision on President Joseph Estrada's plans for 2010."
"We welcome Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III's entry into the race and we salute Sen. Manuel 'Mar' Roxas' sacrifice. The more candidates, the better for democratic process," Maceda said.
"As President Estrada has said, it does not affect his decision to run," Maceda added.
"There's no turning back. President Erap has heard the voice of the Filipino people for him to return to Malacañang and finish all his pro-poor programs," he said.
Estrada was forced to step down from the presidency in January 2001 after a military-backed people power revolt. He only served for two-and-a-half years. He was found guilty of plunder in 2007 but was pardoned by President Arroyo.
Erap: Noynoy most qualified
In a separate statement issued after Roxas announced his withdrawal, Margaux Salcedo, the official spokesperson of Estrada, said the former chief executive "salutes Senator Mar Roxas for his sacrifice for the sake of unity within the Liberal Party and congratulates Senator Noynoy Aquino on his decision to run for president in 2010."
"He has always held the highest regard and admiration for Senator Noynoy Aquino's parents, the late Senator Ninoy and President Cory Aquino and believe that Senator Aquino is most qualified to seek the presidency, just as Senator Mar Roxas was also so qualified," Salcedo said.
"We hope that other presidential candidates could also follow the example of Senator Mar Roxas and be willing to give way, not only for the sake of unity within their parties but for the sake of unity for the entire opposition. Former President Estrada has always maintained that his dream is for the Opposition unite in order to field only one standard bearer in 2010 to ensure the victory of the Opposition," she added.
Roxas formally announced his withdrawal from the 2010 presidential race on Tuesday and his support for Noynoy.
"I am announcing my support for the candicacy of Noynoy Aquino for President in 2010," Roxas said at a press conference at the historic Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.
Noynoy's late mother, former President Corazon Aquino, was sworn into office after a people power revolt in February 1986 at the Club Filipino.
"Noy has made it clear to me that he wants to carry the torch of leadership. The passing of our beloved former President Aquino has reawakened a passion among us. I acknowledge this as fuel to bring us to the realization of our dream: Good will triumph over evil," he said in his speech.
"Ito na ang pinakamabigat na desisyon sa buhay ko. Maniwala man kayo o hindi, ginagawa ko ito para sa bayan, para sa inyo. I do this for unity in support of change. And if that means that somebody must make the sacrifice, it must be me. Ako na," Roxas said.