GMA told: Retire after 2010

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE advice was unsolicited and it came from someone President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo could least expect it.

But yesterday, Quezon City Rep. Matias Defensor, one of her staunchest supporters, advised President Arroyo to retire from politics when her term ends in 2010, saying “there is no clamor” for her to remain in public service.

Defensor, father of the President’s former chief of staff Michael Defensor, made the comment in reaction to the statement of former Justice Secretary and now her chief legal counsel Raul Gonzalez that President Arroyo could run for parliament if efforts to amend the Constitution will succeed.

The elder Defensor, who chairs the House committee on justice, is among the congressmen who signed House Resolution 1109 seeking to convene Congress into a constituent assembly to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Elected congressman of the third district of Quezon City as a member of the Liberal Party, Defensor — who is now on his second term — is now a member of Lakas-CMD, which recently merged with the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (KAMPI) to form the Lakas-KAMPI-CMD.

“Nakapagsilbi na naman siya sa bayan. Nine years na siya. Walang public clamor for her to stay in office. Siguro mabuting magpahinga na siya,” Defensor told reporters in the weekly “Balitaan sa Serye” forum in Quezon City.

“But if she wishes, she may seek any elective post other than the presidency,” the congressman said.

However, if the President steps down and retires in 2010, Defensor said, she would be remembered as the “leader who shielded the country from the effects of the financial crisis” currently engulfing many economies in the world.

As chairman of the House justice panel, Defensor was mainly responsible for the dismissal of the impeachment case against President Arroyo last year.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, said President Arroyo might run for representative of the second district of Pampanga next year, hinting that the move is in preparation for her to seek the position of prime minister under a parliamentary system of government.

Gonzalez also hinted that the President’s plan to run for a legislative seat is aimed at avoiding prosecution for alleged graft and corruption when she loses her presidential immunity on June 30, 2010.