MANILA, Philippines -- A member of the so-called Senate "Wednesday Club" vouched on Monday for Vice President Noli de Castro's ability to lead the country should President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo resign over a corruption scandal.
Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan said he could personally vouch for De Castro's competence, saying anti-Arroyo groups would have no choice but support De Castro should their "Gloria Resign" efforts succeed.
"Admittedly at first there were concerns about inexperience, limitations. After seven years of being senator and vice president, he's been able to get the confidence," Pangilinan told reporters on Monday.
"But more than the (matter of) confidence, whether we like it or not, we should follow constitutional succession. Hypothetically, he is prepared to take over," he added.
Pangilinan and De Castro belong to a close-knit Senate group that calls itself the Wednesday Club since they regularly meet every Wednesday.
The other members are Senate President Manuel Villar, Senator Joker Arroyo and former senator Ralph Recto.
With the revival of calls for Arroyo to resign in view of the Senate exposé on alleged top-level corruption in the National Broadband Network project, political observers are again looking at De Castro.
Banking on his popularity as an ABS-CBN news anchor, De Castro won his first foray into politics during the 2001 senatorial elections.
Despite his lackluster record as a lawmaker, De Castro was swept into the vice presidency as Arroyo's running-mate in the controversial 2004 presidential elections.
Pangilinan said De Castro has been caught in a difficult position, since some anti-Arroyo groups could perceive him to be pro-Arroyo while pro-Arroyo groups could perceive him to be after the presidency.
"I like his current position. He wants the truth about the NBN deal to come out," the senator said.
De Castro as well as those in the opposition who are reportedly eyeing the 2010 presidential elections, except for Senator Panfilo Lacson, have not joined calls for Arroyo to resign.
The other presidential hopefuls among the opposition are Senate President Manuel Villar, Senator Manuel Roxas II, Senator Loren Legarda. The prevailing view is probable presidential candidates would not want De Castro to have an edge by being an incumbent president with access to the resources of government during the 2010 presidential elections.
Roxas, president of the Liberal Party that called for Arroyo's resignation in July 2005, conceded that the President would not give up power.
"Alam ko naman na hindi niya gagawin, so doon na lang ako magco-concentrate sa paghanap ng mga korapsyon na dapat itigil (I know she won't resign anyway, so I would just concentrate on getting to the bottom of corrupt deals that should be nullified)," he said.