Cebu’s Gov. Garcia still all-out for Teodoro

Cebu’s Gov. Garcia still all-out for Teodoro
By Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas
Philippine Daily Inquirer

CEBU CITY—Not so fast, Manny Villar; Cebu is still for Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro.

Speaking at a meeting of the One Cebu party on Wednesday night, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said that nothing had changed since her party late last year endorsed the former defense secretary and administration standard-bearer in the May 10 elections.

“In this season of shifting political alliances, they say there is no such thing as word of honor, but I beg to disagree,” she said, stressing repeatedly that she was keeping her “palabra de honor” in her 20-minute speech in Cebu City.

“I hope that you are with me here. I hope that you will join me in this firm commitment. Because if you do not then perhaps it is best I risk losing all of your support; but I would rather lose that than lose my self-respect,” she said.

Earlier, One Cebu congressmen reportedly met with Villar, the Nacionalista Party presidential candidate, on Wednesday and vowed to support him.

The governor’s father, Rep. Pablo Garcia of the second district confirmed in an interview on Wednesday afternoon that he and his son, Rep. Pablo John Garcia, had met with Villar, who said he was just exchanging pleasantries with the congressmen.

Official stand

But the 84-year-old family patriarch Thursday declared in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the family remained solid behind Teodoro.

“The party has an official stand and the party is supporting Gibo Teodoro,” the elder Garcia said. He said Teodoro would attend a planned mammoth rally of the party in Cebu Friday to officially launch the campaign for local candidates.

“The governor is my daughter and I am with the governor (on this issue),” he said. “The governor has the support of 90 to 95 percent of all the mayors and is supported by all the congressmen.”

Francis Manglapus, Lakas-Kampi-CMD secretary general, said by phone that Teodoro was attending the One Cebu rally.

“We’re flying there. That’s where you’re going to see Gwen is solidly behind Gilbert. Her father and brother will be there,” he said.

“This is the big event. This is where you will see the sentiments of the Cebuanos. Actions speak louder than words,” he added.

‘She’s sticking it out’

Teodoro told Radio Mindanao Network that he had spoken with the Cebu governor and had gotten assurance of her continuing support.

“She’s sticking it out with us,” Teodoro said.

Aside from the Garcias, Villar reportedly met with Representatives Eduardo Gullas of the first district, Benhur Salimbangon of the fourth district and Nerissa Soon-Ruiz of the sixth district.

Gullas, whose Alayon Party has an alliance with One Cebu, earlier declared his support for Villar. Ruiz and Salimbangon were unavailable for comment Thursday.

Rep. Ramon Red Durano of the fifth district did not attend the meeting.

Former Mandaue City Mayor Alfredo Ouano, whose son Thadeo was privy to the discussion between Villar and the congressmen on Wednesday, said he got the impression that Winston Garcia, the governor’s brother, wanted One Cebu to support Villar.

Ouano said he had learned that Winston was concerned that he would lose his job as president of the Government Service Insurance System if Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III won the presidency.

The Inquirer tried to get Winston’s reaction, but he could not be reached by press time.

Mayor’s denial

Former Mayor Alvin Garcia of Cebu City, founder of Kugi Uswag Sugbo (Progress for Cebu), or Kusug, also denied having said that his cousin Winston arranged an alliance between Kusug and the NP so that the Garcias would support Villar.

“Definitely it’s not true,” he said.

Vice Mayor Maria Luisa Loot of Daanbantayan said she would abide by what the governor had announced. “We will still support Gibo,” Loot said.

The elder Garcia said it did not matter if Teodoro remained at the bottom of surveys of presidential candidates, whose two front-runners are Villar and Aquino.

“If we will go by the surveys then there is no more need for a campaign,” he said.

Drive to lift Gibo rating

Gwendolyn Garcia founded One Cebu. In the 2004 election, the party gave President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a 1-million-vote margin over her nearest rival, the late Fernando Poe Jr., in Cebu.

The administration party this week launched a major offensive to lift Teodoro’s poll rating, putting out new ads in prime time network shows to coincide with the start of the campaign for local positions.

The ruling coalition, which enjoys a headlock on 70 percent of local government positions, is pinning its hopes on superior resources and widespread party machinery to swing the tide in favor of Teodoro, according to political analysts.

Teodoro’s spokesperson, Mike Toledo, has said the commercials will be aired with frequencies rivaling those of Villar and Aquino.

Also Thursday, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno shrugged off reports that the Garcias had abandoned Teodoro.

“As far as I know, the family, the organization of the Garcias is still working with Gibo. No one among them has left,” said Puno, Teodoro’s chief political strategist. With reports from Christian V. Esguerra, TJ Burgonio, Michael Lim Ubac and Miko Morelos

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.