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Six Pampanga mayors clamor for Arroyo in House

By Charlene Cayabyab, Inquirer Central Luzon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:52:00 11/01/2009

Filed Under: Politics, Inquirer Politics, Elections, Eleksyon 2010

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO?If the mayors of Pampanga?s second district had their way, they would want to see President Macapagal-Arroyo in Congress in 2010.

The mayors? statements came after flyers urging Ms Arroyo to run for representative appeared on one of her visits to Lubao, the hometown of her late father, former President Diosdado Macapagal.

All six mayors of the second district reached Saturday by the Inquirer said they would support Ms Arroyo should she run for representative of her home district. The mayors were Dennis Pineda (Lubao), Eduardo Guerrero (Floridablanca), Ricardo Rivera (Guagua), Rogelio Santos (Porac), Leonardo Velasco (Sasmuan) and Yolanda Pineda (Sta. Rita).

Floridablanca Mayor Guerrero said he told Ms Arroyo about a petition urging her to run for Congress but did not get a categorical answer about her political plans.

?She just smiled at me when I told her about the petition encouraging her to run as representative of the second district,? he said.

Ms Arroyo?s frequent visits to the province this year?almost weekly, with some visits stretching for three days and most of them to towns in the second district?have led to speculation that she would seek the position now held by her son, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel ?Mikey? Arroyo.

The President inspects and inaugurates government projects like school buildings, roads and water systems during her visits here. She also distributes relief goods, land titles, scholarship certificates and health cards to residents.

Guerrero said Ms Arroyo has not disclosed any of her political plans to local officials.

?But, by all means, we want her to run. Wouldn?t you be pleased to have a [former] President as your district?s representative in Congress?? he said.

Lubao Mayor Pineda said Ms Arroyo could serve the district well.

`Majority want her to run?

?I?ll support PGMA (Ms Arroyo) 100 percent if she runs for representative because that means government projects will continue to pour into the second district,? he said.

Porac Mayor Santos said ?majority of the people in the province want her to run.?

While he has not asked Ms Arroyo about her political plans, he said ?her body language [says] she will run.?

?Maybe she?s still [studying the] legal impediments that could hinder [her bid] if ever she will run for Congress. That?s why she?s not stating her political plans yet,? Santos said.

Guagua Mayor Rivera said he would push Ms Arroyo to run. ?If only I could, I will push her to run as our representative. I think all mayors here would like her to run.?

For his part, Sasmuan Mayor Velasco said he would support Ms Arroyo whenever she decides to run because she has a wide experience in public service.

Meanwhile, Santa Rita Mayor Pineda said: ?If President Arroyo still wants to serve her kabalen (townspeople), why not run??

Lorelei Fajardo, deputy presidential spokesperson, said she would not want to second guess the President?s political plans.

Focus on second district

?It?s only the President who can say if she?s running or not. We hardly talk about politics,? Fajardo said.

Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio, a critic of Ms Arroyo, said the fact that the President spends a lot of time in the second district is evidence of her political plans.

?All indications that she will run are here. She?s the President yet she?s focusing on one district. Why are there lots of funds for the second district?? Panlilio noted.

He said other areas in Pampanga and other provinces have more problems than the second district.

Resign from presidency

But Fajardo, in an earlier interview, disputed Panlilio?s view. ?The President has been going around the country and as long as other provinces are not neglected, there is nothing wrong if the President visits her hometown often,? she said.

Panlilio said if Ms Arroyo will run, she should resign from the presidency to be fair to other candidates.

?Who will run against her? Imagine, from president to congresswoman? Who will dare fight her?? he pointed out.

Earlier, Randy David, a sociology professor at the University of the Philippines, had said he would run against Ms Arroyo if she enters the congressional race in Pampanga?s second district. On Friday, David said he is backing out if Ms Arroyo will not step down from the presidency when she files her certificate of candidacy by Nov. 30.

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