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Why Aquino, fresh off Philippines elections victory, risks being outflanked

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.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo waves to supporters as she arrives to be proclaimed the winning Congresswoman of the 2nd District of Pampanga province in ceremonies Wednesday at San Fernando city, Pampanga province in northern Philippines.

Bullit Marquez/AP

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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.

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