Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Aquino, Fresh off Philippines Elections Victory, Risks Being Outflanked

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Aquino, Fresh off Philippines Elections Victory, Risks Being Outflanked

Article excerpt

In the Philippines election this week, outgoing President Gloria Arroyo won a seat in Congress, where she aims to become House Speaker and challenge the expected incoming president, Benigno Aquino.

The outgoing administration of President Gloria Arroyo made preparations Thursday to hand over to her likely successor, opposition Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino, following his apparent victory in Monday's election. But Ms. Arroyo is far from finished as a political force.

The Constitution barred Arroyo from running for another term as president, but on Monday voters in her home district north of Manila elected her to the House of Representatives by a landslide.

It was unprecedented for an outgoing president to run for Congress, and her opponents originally suspected she was seeking immunity from prosecution. Aquino has promised to have Arroyo investigated for corruption during her administration.

Facing investigation

In fact, she will have no immunity as a congresswoman. But members of Arroyo's Lakas-Kampi-NUCD party have sought to protect her - politically, at least. They have made no secret of their plan to make her speaker of the House. This would make her the focus of opposition to the new president, and so make any investigation appear to be an act of political spite.

Despite the tension between Arroyo and Aquino, the outgoing president has promised a smooth handover of power.

"I am putting our government at the disposal of the incoming leadership," she said after winning her seat in the House.

Aquino campaigned on an anticorruption platform, seeking to contrast himself with Arroyo, whose administration was plagued by scandal. In particular, her opponents accused her of winning the 2004 presidential election by fraud. Arroyo denies any wrongdoing.

Administration officials have said they will cooperate with any investigation. …

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