MANILA - Former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada is 99.9% sure of making another bid for the presidency after realizing that opposition unity is no longer possible, his spokesman said on Saturday.
Margaux Salcedo, Estrada's spokesman, said at a forum that after Estrada talked to Senators Manuel Villar and Mar Roxas, it appears the two other opposition candidates are already bent on running for the presidency, which makes opposition unity in 2010 virtually impossible.
Salcedo said Estrada has been frustrated by efforts to unite and field a single candidate against the administration, which is why he [Estrada] is "99.9% sure to run."
However, she added there are still many possibilities, with over three months still to go before the deadline for the filing of certificate of candidacy for the 2010 elections closes on November 30.
Salcedo said the opposition's experience in the 2004 elections showed that the administration has a better chance of winning if the opposition is divided.
In 2004, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo narrowly defeated opposition bet, the late movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., in a five-way race. Many believe Poe would have won if third placer Senator Panfilo Lacson withdrew from the race.
Estrada eligible to run
Meanwhile, a former dean of the UP College of Law believes Estrada is qualified to run again despite a provision in the 1987 Constitution that says a president is only eligible for a six-year term.
Dean Froilan Bacungan said the provision in the 1987 Constitution which says, "The President shall not be eligible for any re-election," does not apply to Estrada.
He said the Constitution provides that "election may no longer be allowed if an incumbent president has served for four years." Estrada is not an incumbent president and served for only two and a half years, from June 1998-January 2001. His term was cut short by military-backed people power revolt.
Aside from this, Salcedo also said that the Constitution states that whoever the next President will be is dependent upon who the people want to lead them. This is the principle behind a democracy.
She said it is for the people to decide whether Estrada should be reelected.
Last Wednesday, former Senate President Jovito Salonga predicted that the 2010 presidential elections will be a two-way fight between Senators Manuel Villar and Mar Roxas since he believes the Supreme Court will disqualify Estrada.
“In the ultimate analysis, ang maglalaban siguro, subject to qualifications, sina Manny Villar at Mar Roxas,” Salonga told reporters
Salonga said the Supreme Court will still have to decide on the presidential bid of Estrada. He said he doubts if Estrada is qualified to seek re-election. “Sa paniwala nya, lagi siyang qualified. May duda ako,” he told reporters.
Estrada was convicted of plunder in 2007 although President Arroyo immediately granted him pardon and restored his civil and political rights.