Estrada is Arroyo’s last card vs Aquino–Maceda
By Norman Bordadora, Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Supporting former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada may be the only remaining option for the Arroyo administration if it wants to prevent Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III from winning next week’s presidential elections, according to Estrada’s campaign manager.
“If they don’t like Noynoy to win, whether they talk to us or not, it’s normal or it’s not surprising if they swing their support to us to try to block the victory of Noynoy,” former Sen. Ernesto Maceda told reporters on Monday.
“That’s how we will overtake (Noynoy) if and when all of these people who don’t like Noynoy and who feel that (administration bet Gilbert) Teodoro or (Nacionalista Party candidate Sen. Manuel) Villar or (Sen. Richard) Gordon have no chance of winning,” Maceda added.
Maceda painted this scenario as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Tuesday ruled with finality that Estrada—who was ousted in 2001, convicted of plunder in 2007 and then granted presidential pardon that same year—could seek reelection.
The Comelec upheld its Jan. 20 ruling and dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by lawyer Evillo Pormento, who had sought Estrada’s disqualification.
The poll body maintained that Estrada, 73, was not covered by the constitutional ban on the reelection of chief executives because he was not a sitting president.
Pormento failed to present any new argument that would make the body change its mind, the Comelec said Tuesday.
An elated Estrada said the Comelec decision would “enhance my vote-getting power” and improve his chances of winning.
‘People can think again’
Those who went for other candidates in the past presidential surveys may now reconsider their choices, Estrada said.
“The black propaganda against me (was) that I will be disqualified,” Estrada added. “People can think again.”
Maceda also presented the results of a survey conducted from April 23 to 25 showing Estrada already at solo second with 25 percent below Aquino’s 35 percent, with Villar falling to third with 17 percent.
Teodoro landed fourth with 9 percent in the survey commissioned by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, a reelectionist under Estrada’s party Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.
In the latest Pulse Asia survey conducted also from April 23 to 25, Aquino also led the pack with 39 percent, while Estrada and Villar tied for second place at 20 percent.
“I think their only option is to swing their support to us to block the victory of Noynoy,” Maceda said.
But Estrada answered no when asked if there had been feelers from the Arroyo administration for a possible alliance in the run-up to the May 10 elections.
“I believe that I’d be the last person they’d talk to. Because, you know, they grabbed power from me and then they put me behind bars,” Estrada said.
The former leader said he didn’t have any debt of gratitude to the administration even with the pardon granted by Ms Arroyo.
“She’s the one who has a debt of gratitude. She was the one who sat (as President). She even did so for (almost) 10 years,” Estrada said.
Estrada had spent the most part of his campaign projecting himself as the only true opposition candidate.