DAVID VS GOLIATH — UP prof ready to run vs GMA

DAVID VS GOLIATH
UP prof ready to run vs GMA

By Kristine L. Alave, Juliet Labog-Javellana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:40:00 06/26/2009

Filed Under: Politics, Elections

MANILA, Philippines — His wife and four children are all against it, but University of the Philippines professor and Inquirer columnist Randy David declared Thursday that he would seriously consider running against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should she seek a seat in the House representing the second district of their home province of Pampanga in 2010.

“If she runs, I will think about it very seriously. Yes, I think so. She will not go unchallenged. She will not go unopposed; we will oppose her every step of the way,” David, 63, told the Inquirer last night when asked about reports that he would pit himself against the powerful President in a local showdown.

“It’s probably the most foolish thing to do. I know it’s quixotic to run against the President—somebody who has no qualms about using all the powers of her office—but I think somebody has to stop her. And if we get to that point, I will do my part even if that may be myself,” said the sociology professor.

Brazen

David said the moves to have Ms Arroyo run for a seat in Congress and to hammer out Charter change toward a shift to the parliamentary system were a “brazen” way of circumventing the constitutional ban on presidential reelection.

Under a parliamentary system, the prime minister is the head of state, he pointed out.

“I think what she is doing is really too much, and they have to be stopped,” he said.

David said that while the people of Pampanga were proud to have the President come from the province, this was not a justification for her to prolong her stay in power.

“I belong to the second district and we will not take this [candidacy] sitting down,” he declared.

David said Ms Arroyo had been frequenting Pampanga recently, distributing checks and food—“precisely the worst aspects of patronage politics.”

He said running against Ms Arroyo would also provide the opportunity to grill her on the corruption scandals hounding her administration.

“I will be very happy to challenge her to a debate and let the people know the answers to the many questions about this administration,” he said.

Most unpopular

On a national scale, David said running against Ms Arroyo would be “the easiest thing in the world because she is the most unpopular President.”

But when it came down to local politics, he acknowledged that he probably did not stand a chance against her.

Asked where he would get the resources to run against the President, if and when, he chuckled and said: “I don’t know. Maybe if you run, the resources will come.”

He said he had not talked with Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio about his plan or whether they would form an alliance against the President and her son, Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, the incumbent representative of Pampanga who has announced plans to run for governor against the priest-turned-politician.

David said his wife, former Civil Service Commission head Karina Constantino-David, and their four children, as well as his siblings, were vehemently against his running.

Weekend reunion in Betis

But should Ms Arroyo file her candidacy for congresswoman, “I will sit down and talk to my brothers and sisters and my wife and children and tell them ‘Eto na ang kinatatakutan natin (This is what we have been fearing),’” he said.

David said his father, Fiscal Pedro David, who was a lawyer of the Liberal Party, was close to Ms Arroyo’s late father, President Diosdado Macapagal. As early as when Diosdado Macapagal was a congressman, he was a frequent visitor at the David residence in Betis.

David said he did not get close to Ms Arroyo because she did not live in Pampanga.

He himself has been going home to Betis every Sunday on his motorcycle for weekend family reunions, he said.

‘We’ll not take it lying down’

In a media interview yesterday at Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, Panlilio let loose with fighting words in talking about Ms Arroyo’s purported planned run.

“People are sensing a political agenda in what she is doing. There is a growing notion that she’s using the second district of Pampanga for her political plans to protect herself from legal suits later on,” he said, adding:

“We will give her a good fight. We have some options. We will definitely pit someone in case she runs. We will not take this lying down.”

Asked if David was their candidate, Panlilio neither denied nor confirm it.

15 visits so far

He said he had only read of David’s supposed plan to challenge Ms Arroyo in the papers, and that he had yet to talk to the UP professor who backed his candidacy for governor in 2007.

But David can definitely run in the second district as he is a registered voter there, Panlilio said.

He said Pampanga residents had “mixed” reactions to Ms Arroyo and her frequent visits to her home province.

If the elections were held now, Ms Arroyo would definitely win the congressional seat in the second district because she has brought improvements there, Panlilio said.

But there are other constituents who see through her political agenda, he said.

Of the 17 times Ms Arroyo visited Pampanga this year, 15 were in the second district.

“I believe more and more people are having a growing consciousness of why she’s doing this. If she truly loves Pampanga, why doesn’t she run for governor?” Panlilio said.

“We don’t want Pampanga to be used,” he said.

Frat brod

In Malacañang, Gary Olivar, one of the President’s spokespersons, pledged support for her possible opponent in 2010.

Olivar, Ms Arroyo’s preferred mouthpiece on economic affairs, said he and David belonged to the same fraternity.

“So I would encourage him to run regardless of whether the President will run or not,” Olivar said. “And I will certainly campaign for him.”

Olivar took a different tack after being reminded by a reporter that he was a spokesperson for Ms Arroyo, who might end up contesting the congressional seat in Pampanga with David.

“He will have my moral support then,” Olivar said.

David will have “a bright future if he decides to go into politics,” according to Olivar.

But he said the sociology professor “should not condition [his decision] on the President’s plan.”

Ultimate intention

Lorelei Fajardo, another of Ms Arroyo’s spokespersons, questioned David’s motivation in considering running for a seat in the House.

“We should have the right intention and right motive in running, and I think there’s no better intention for us than to serve our country, serve our people and make a good difference,” Fajardo said.

“This should be the ultimate intention, and nothing else,” she said.

Olivar added: “I would like to believe that professor David shares the same intention.”

With a report from Christian V. Esguerra

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