MANILA, The Philippines -- Former Sen. Eva Estrada Kalaw today ended her bid to unseat President Ferdinand Marcos in Feb. elections, saying she would seek the vice presidency instead, fueling speculation Corazon Aquino will be Marcos' only opposition.
The wife of murdered opposition leader Benigno Aquino and former Sen. Salvador Laurel were scheduled to announce Sunday who would challenge Marcos in the Feb. 7 balloting.
Aquino's aides said Laurel had agreed to run for vice president fueling speculation that she would be the sole opposition candidate, but this could not be confirmed. She is regarded as the only opposition candidate with a chance of unseating Marcos, who has ruled the Philippines for 20 years.
Kalaw, 65, head of a faction of the Liberal Party, announced at a news conference her decision to withdraw from the presidential contest, saying she would run for vice president instead.
The office of vice president was abolished when Marcos declared eight years of martial law in 1972.
'The imperatives of opposition victory require that I give way to one single opposition candidate,' Kalaw said, reading from a prepared statement.
She declined to speculate who would be the sole opposition presidential candidate but added that whoever is eventually chosen will also be asked to run as the candidate of the Liberals.
Aquino, 52, still has not announced her party affiliation although several groups have endorsed her.
Earlier, former Sen. Jovito Salonga announced his withdrawal from the presidential contest.
Kalaw is the first to announce for the vice presidential campaign, although half a dozen opposition politicians also aspire for the office, including Salonga, president of a larger faction of the Liberal party.
A former national champion in rapid-fire pistol shooting, Kalaw was arrested twice and jailed for several weeks for allegedly helping plot a military coup against Marcos in 1979.
She said she did not think the early election would happen because the Supreme Court may eventually declare the election law unconstitutional.
At least 10 petitions have been filed with the high court seeking a halt to the balloting. Petitioners say the constitution requires that there be a vacancy before a special election is held before the expiration of Marcos' term in 1987.
Marcos, 68, has said that if the election law is declared unconstitutional, the elections will be held in 1987.