MANILA, Philippines - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo can run for a congressional seat in next year’s elections if she wants to, outgoing Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said on Wednesday.
Gonzalez, who will be the new chief legal adviser of President Arroyo, said the Constitution does not prohibits a former president from running for a lower elective position.
“That is allowed," Gonzalez said. “Certainly she can run for vice president, for senator, congressman or mayor if she desires. There’s no law preventing her."
He said what the law prohibits is for a President to seek reelection, citing Section 4, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution.
Gonzalez made the statement as thousands gathered in Makati City late Wednesday afternoon to denounce the supposed administration’s move to amend the Constitution, which they said is a ploy to keep President Arroyo in power beyond 2010.
Some critics claimed President Arroyo is eyeing a congressional seat in her hometown in Lubao, Pampanga so she can run for prime minister under a parliamentary system, which is one of the possible end-products of Charter change.
President Arroyo has yet to reveal her plans for 2010, and Gonzalez said she has not indicated to her Cabinet any plan to run for any public office when her term expires next year.
But he said President Arroyo could be an efficient congresswoman, and that becoming a prime minister would not be a long shot for her.
“If we shift to the parliamentary system, anything is possible," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez has repeatedly said that he favors the convening of a constituent assembly that will amend the Constitution.
The House of Representatives approved last week House Resolution 1109, which seeks to convene the chamber into a constituent assembly without the participation of the Senate.