Op-Ed: Philippines' Noynoy can't yet rest on his laurels

Posted May 13, 2010 by Alexander Martin Remollino
The Liberal Party's Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III, the leading presidential candidate, seems set to become the Philippines' next president. But don't count out Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Philippine President Noynoy Aquino
Philippine President Noynoy Aquino
Based on the results of the unofficial Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV)-GMA 7 count as of 1:10 pm today, reflecting 89.46 percent of election returns, Aquino enjoys a lead of almost 5 million over his closest rival, Joseph Estrada.
But he cannot yet rest on his laurels. There is someone he has to face who could pose a major challenge to his rule.
Outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, of the Lakas-Kampi coalition, was proclaimed today as the new representative of Pampanga's second district, besting three other candidates.
Arroyo had several times expressed support for proposals to change the form of government from presidential to parliamentary through charter change. She had also expressed "willingness" to serve as prime minister under a parliamentary government.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo shake hands with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Direct...
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo shake hands with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Leon Edward Panetta during the Call at the Music Hall MalacaƱang Palace ,Manila on July 12, 2009.
Office of the President (
If Lakas-Kampi and the Arroyo-allied party-list groups get to dominate the House of Representatives, it would not be far-fetched to expect Arroyo to make a bid for the speakership. An Arroyo-led House of Representatives may push for charter change aiming to abolish both the presidency and the Senate and shift to parliamentary government, and after that declare Arroyo as prime minister.
The prime minister's post, in the hands of Arroyo, would be a tool for escaping accountability for her regime's abuses, such as corruption, sell-out of the national patrimony, and human rights violations.
Aquino may well already be called the president-elect even without an official proclamation. But he cannot yet afford to sit pretty, as there is a potential threat to his leadership that he has to be prepared to meet head-on.