Gibo on corruption, Ondoy, Maguindanao — is he ready to lead?

Is Gibo Teodoro Ready To Lead?
Wednesday, 20 January 2010 09:00 PM Cocoy

This is Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro. Casually dressed. Relaxed. Confident. Intelligent. He was a member of congress and served as defense secretary. He is a licensed commercial pilot, and a reserve colonel of the Philippine Air Force. A quick appraisal of Gibo Teodoro is a man with apparent depth and intelligence. Accompanied by his charming and equally accomplished wife, Tarlac first district representative, Monica “Nikki” Prieto-Teodro, one doesn’t need to imagine how picturesque they are: power couple.

Are the Teodoros too good to be true?

The opening minutes of blogwatch’s recent interview with him was a telltale sign of who Gibo Teodoro is. He decisively put an end to the “Posible” commercial controversy that was hunting his campaign. The speech, the mannerism sought to evoke the idea that he is experienced that he is a leader and he commands.

It seemed like a good start. The question before us of course is simply, “who is Gibo Teodoro?”

Gibo is pedigree. The son of former Marcos-era SSS boss Teodoro Sr., and Batasang Pambansa member Mercedes Cojuangco-Teodoro. He went on to study with the Jesuit run, Xavier school, then off to De La Salle University for a bachelor’s degree in Commerce before entering UP Law and completing a master’s degree with Harvard Law School.

At an early age the young Teodoro had sowed the seeds for a life in politics by becoming president of the Central Luzon Kabataang Barangay president for five years and the Sanguniang Panlalawigan of Tarlac.

Raissa Robles wrote that during Gibo Teodoro’s seven-year tenure working for the law office of Estelito Mendoza, he was lawyer for Lucio Tan and Danding Cojunanco’s ill-gotten wealth cases.

As of 2005, Gibo Teodoro’s galing at talino was worth 102 Million pesos.

Gibo Teodoro’s voting record included a yes for Fair Elections Act, and Electric Power Industry Reform Act as well as Automated Elections and Juvenile Justice Act. He had no vote for Anti-Money Laundering Act, Dual Citizenship Act, Tobacco Regulation Act, Meralco Franchise Act, and Government Procurement Act.

Mr. Teodoro during the 13th congress voted No, when the Anti-Terrorism Act was brought to a vote.

On issues of our time, Mr. Teodoro is for charter change even as he believes innovation is the key to up lift the economy. With regard to government debt, he says that it has shrunk from 70% to 37% of GDP, even while he is against the Reproductive Health bill.

Gibo Teodoro believes in student loans, as well as expanding education to be at par with global standards as well as campaign finance reforms.

Then came Teodoro’s stint as defense secretary, which I think is an important look as how ready he is to be president.

Two important things happened in recent memory that defined Mr. Teodoro’s stint as defense secretary. First there was Ondoy and Pepeng and then there was the Ampatuan Massacre.

An important question on his competence is addressed. Mr. Teodoro said that while he was in charge of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), and while he was Defense Chief, neither agency was actually equipped to provide the necessary infrastructure to conduct rescue. He cited an example if the Military was in charge of disaster relief, they would have to exchange buying military equipment for rubber boats. He said that is why it is important to have a separate disaster relief agency. That is why he said that the NDCC had too few resources to deploy.

Al Jazeera interviewed Gibo Teodoro which was posted on YouTube with regard to Ondoy. In that interview, Mr. Teodoro talked about budget constraints in procuring rubber boats in a country perennially visited by typhoons. My Teodoro has been insisting that he and the NDCC had done their best and that as Defense Secretary’s were tied. That buying rubber boats will take them away from their primary mission and that rubber boats is not within their budget.

While he takes full responsibility, is that an acceptable excuse?

I point you to Random Salt who wrote about Uncoordinated Disaster: the first forty-eight hours of Ondoy. He noted for example that before Ondoy made landfall, NDCC monitored developments and sent advisories. Deployments of assents he wrote in the first 48 hours were sporadic rather than strategic, or no deployment at all.

Here is a list of DSWD NROC releases to officials. (Chart version is here).

Let us assume for the sake of argument that indeed NDCC had no authority, as Mr. Teodoro claims. Knowing full well the effects of climate change has in the world. Knowing full well what happened when Typhoon Katrina, which occurred years before, why were changes not even recommended to the Philippines disaster preparation system before Ondoy?

There have been numerous studies on city development pre-Ondoy. In his video interview, Sec. Teodoro cited these studies. Where was this sipag, pre-Ondoy? Not even a whisper in Congress calling on them to fund NDCC better or to setup better disaster prevention.

Doesn’t NDCC conduct an audit of its capabilities? Have there been no preventive measures taken? The Philippines is visited by more than a dozen typhoons a year, isn’t it prudent that measures were at least recommended to forestall Ondoy-like tragedies or at the very least limit its effect?

Former Secretary Teodoro was in office for more than two 18 months. He was the man in charge of disaster relief and coordination. He should already have known where the weakness were in the system and a man who is hardworking (sipag) would have made it his mission to beef up the system, to make necessary changes or at the very least, make noise about it since it is his department to run.

The case of Ondoy clearly showed that Mr. Teodoro is not forward looking enough. Where was his “Galing at Talino” leading up to Ondoy then? Why is it that only now is Mr. Teodoro recommending the creation of a separate Disaster Relief Management Agency?

Why should the Filipino vote back into power, the Lakas Party? Why should the Filipino vote Teodoro when all he says is passing buck? Why should the Filipino vote Gibo to fix Manila to the tune of 280B when it was Teodoro’s NDCC that failed to foresee how tomorrow’s dangers are? When it is Teodoro’s boss and his political party colegues who have been delinquent?

It was also during his tenure as Defense Secretary that the Maguindanao Massacre occurred. At face value it may seem irrelevant to associate that blood with a defense secretary. Yet as head of the country’s Department of National Defense, surely he would have been briefed about the Ampatuan clan.

Ed Lingao quoted Jaileen Jimenco’s work “Amid the fighting, the clan rules in Maguindanao” in his work, “Putting Maguindanao in Context”:

“(Analysts) note that no less than the Palace made it legal for the Ampatuans to have hundreds of armed men and women under their employ. The 1987 Constitution bans private armed groups. In July 2006, however, the Arroyo Administration issued Executive Order 546, allowing local officials and the PNP to deputize barangay tanods as ‘force multipliers’ in the fight against insurgents. In practice, the EO allowed local officials to convert their private armed groups into legal entities with a fancy name: civilian volunteer organizations (CVO).”

As Defense Secretary with an insurgency being waged in Mindanao, surely he was well aware of these private armed groups.

In this Philippine Star article, it was noted that the President used PHP800M pesos worth of emergency fund for foreign trips. In a country where more than half a dozen typhoon visits the Philippines, why is this being practiced?

Most certainly, Gibo Teodoro cannot be blamed if his boss used whatever funds she has available. And yet, Mr. Teodoro is a close ally of the President. Yet he is a member of the political party that has been in power for the past decade. His boss has been in power for the past decade and he has not been vocal at all about what’s wrong with the Philippines. And if president, it will be his same party who will be in power for another six years.

Surprisingly, Mr. Teodoro in his interview with categorically said that he does not believe that there is a high level of corruption on the national level. Mr. Teodoro argues that corruption is an aspect. It is not the aspect.

In the World Bank book, “Poverty in the Philippines” it was mentioned that economic growth did not translate to poverty reduction in the Philippines even as Governance and Institutional constraints remain. These constraints still exist even after Teodoro’s party was in power for nine years.

The RPPA Study team of Cielito Habito, Ella Antonio, Danilo Songco, Roehlano Briones and Marian Roces submitted to the World Bank in June 2009, “Towards an Integrated Operation Framework for Rural Poverty Reduction in the Philippines.” They wrote that weakness in the Philippines’ dysfunctional governance manifested itself in graft and corruption; in the top down way decisions are made, in political interference and weak capabilities of both the national and local governments.

The Global Competitive Index 2009-2010 ranks the Philippines at 113 out of 133 nations for the state of its institutions. The same report states that the most problematic factor for doing business in the Philippines is corruption followed at close second by the inefficiency of government bureaucracy, inadequate supply of infrastructure, and then policy instability.

As Bocchi noted in Rising Growth, Declining Investment: The Puzzle of the Philippines, the Philippines must lower its debt to GDP ratio, to have greater income it must strengthen its tax collection and restrain non-priority expenditures. How then to improve tax collection but to clean house?

Bill Clinton called it, “incapacity”. Tim Hardford wrote about “why poor countries are poor.” He said that when people’s interest take on actions that directly or indirectly damage everyone else’s, incentives to create wealth then fail. That sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Does Gibo Teodoro understand the complex problem of the Philippines?

Doubt has really cast on my mind if there is Galing at Talino.

For example, Rochelle asked, “Why Gibo Teodoro changed his mind on the RH Bill,” It could be summed up to “what good is fighting for something knowing the effort would fail?” Rochelle added that Teodoro’s stance is simply to do nothing and wait until everything is out of control.

Is that how he will be as president?

Are we asking too much? Have we raised the bar so high that it is impossible to assess if this man is fit for president?

Gilbert Teodoro has time and again said that he will run a positive campaign. That he will not throw mud against his political rivals. That should he be president that is how he will bind our nation’s wounds. Character.

What I take from that statement is that he will form a government of consensus. His leadership will be about putting the many discrete factions of our society together.

When Gibo Teodoro talked with blogwatch about Mindanao, clearly he understands that we need Mindanao to be free of conflict so that we could start producing rice there. Clearly, he knows that given the constraints the national budget as, we need to raise revenue. Clearly, he knows that the way to the future is to improve, and bring our educational system to be at par with the rest of the world, to have a multilingual society. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo too knows the same things.

Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro is running with the tag, “galing at talino.” Gibo Teodoro like Manny Villar brand themselves as the experts. Gibo was “very galing” at figuring out Ondoy. It was during his watch that we lost several billions of pesos and several priceless lives. Decades of infrastructure failure, of course is not his fault. His mistake was not assessing the dangers as NDCC chief and did not even try to change the system months before and a better man who have resigned his post then and there.

It is easy now to note that Metro Manila would take 280 Billion to rebuild. It is easy to say that generations of shanties along side our rivers be removed. It is easy to say that zoning would have to be made and it is very easy that some people might get hurt along the way. Some people will have to take the burden.

It is far easier to ask the Filipino to make sacrifices. What Mr. Teodoro fail to realize is that our leadership must show good will first then you will find our people far more understanding at the sacrifices that they must carry.

Ten years of Arroyo’s and the Lakas Party’s leadership and they have little to show for it save, our nation is still standing. Gibo Teodoro is not Arroyo but he is her representative, the party standard bearer. His association with Arroyo cannot be conveniently be forgot.

I’m not even going to touch on whether or not Gibo Teodoro can be his own man and stay outside of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s shadow post election day, should he be president.

Gibo Teodoro, Manny Villar and Gloria Arroyo talk a good game. They’re the experts. The experts will cost taxpayers 280B to rebuild Manila. The experts cost the taxpayers 6.22B that could have been used for something else. That’s just for starters.

As I noted from Rochelle’s post regarding Gibo Teodoro’s stance on Reproductive Health Bill, it is like saying if you cannot pass a bill then he won’t even try? If he just gives up and gives in? Is that how it will be when he’s president?

Gibo Teodoro can talk a good game. It is easy to be swayed by Gibo Teodoro’s words. He comes across as a really smart and good guy. I suppose you can judge for yourself what the details tell you. Perhaps, the best indicator as to whether or not Gibo Teodoro is ready to lead comes from the man himself. He said during his blogwatch interview, “you can have the best laid plans, but the devil is in the details.” The devil is in the details indeed.

The ProPinoy Project