DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines ? Giving up hope that the opposition would unite in time to field a suitable candidate, former President Joseph Estrada has decided to run for president himself.
?Mukhang wala nang pag-asa [na mag-unite ang oposisyon]. Si Noynoy (Sen. Benigno Aquino III), hindi maaawat iyon. Si Senator (Manuel) Villar, di na rin maawat. Si Senator (Francis) Escudero, di na rin maaawat. Kaya tatakbo na rin ako. (I have given up hope that the opposition would unite. Noynoy can?t be stopped. Senator Villar can?t be stopped. Senator Escudero can?t also be stopped. So, I?m also running),? Estrada told reporters here.
Estrada was here for his Lakbay Pasasalamat that brought him to the towns of Calasiao, Binmaley, Lingayen, Bugallon, Aguilar and Mangatarem. This is his third visit this year to the vote-rich province of Pangasinan.
Both Aquino of the Liberal Party and Villar of the Nacionalista Party have formally announced their intention to run for president in the 2010 elections. Escudero, who belongs to the Nationalist People?s Coalition, has yet to formally declare his candidacy.
For his part, Estrada said he would formally declare his candidacy ?at the proper time.? He refused to name his running mate, saying he would make the announcement at his formal declaration.
He said his political party, Partido ng Masang Pilipino, would field a full slate in the 2010 elections, including local candidates.
His senatorial slate includes Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, his son Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, detained Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, Jose ?Joey? de Venecia III, actor Edu Manzano, Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Grace Poe-Llamanzares, daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr.
?We are also considering Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand Marcos, and as a guest candidate, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago,? Estrada said.
In Pangasinan, he said he is ?inclined? to support Rep. Victor Agbayani, who has declared his intention to challenge incumbent Gov. Amado Espino Jr.
?[Agbayani and I] have talked but [we have not reached] a final decision yet,? Estrada said.
In the province?s congressional races, he said he would support the bids of television news reporter Maki Pulido in the first district, and Gina de Venecia in the fourth district. Her husband, former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., is finishing his third and last term.
Estrada also denied the accusations made by Sen. Panfilo Lacson in his privilege speeches in the Senate.
Lacson had indicated that Estrada may have been involved in the December 2000 murders of publicist Salvador Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito.
?Pure fiction. I have never been charged with murder. I was brought up by a very religious family,? Estrada said in English and Filipino.
The antigraft court convicted the former President of plunder in September 2007 and sentenced him to 40 years in prison. Estrada never served the prison term, however, as President Macapagal-Arroyo granted him a pardon barely a month after.
Asked who among the presidential aspirants he considered as his strongest opponent, Estrada said: ?It?s too early to tell.?
Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. is also running for president under the administration Lakas-Kampi-CMD party.
?We will know by January or February [next year],? Estrada said.