Teodoro: My rallies belie surveys
By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Come to my rallies, and see for yourself who the voters are rooting for.
Fired up by the mammoth crowd at Friday night’s rally in Mandaluyong City, Gilbert Teodoro Jr. aired this challenge to survey firms, as he rallied the youth to stand up for him and be counted.
“Let them match what happened tonight. No entertainers, no controlled crowd,” he said in a fiery speech from a stage on Nueve de Febrero Street, drawing roars of approval from the thick crowd.
“This is a turning point. Amid all the black propaganda, people came out to show their support for all of us. And amid all the mind-conditioning of surveys and what have you, this is the real survey.
“I’ll match the anonymous 1,500 respondents that they usually ask for their surveys with the 30,000 who are now here—1,500 against 30,000. I’ll place all my bets on you.”
From Day One of the campaign, Teodoro has trailed Sen. Benigno Aquino III of the Liberal Party, Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party and deposed President Joseph Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino in the surveys, coming in fourth with a rating of 6 to 8 percent.
With a month to go before election day, Teodoro’s administration-backed Lakas-Kampi-CMD party is beset by defections from local officials jumping over to parties higher up on the survey charts.
Facing the press later inside a covered air-conditioned tent beside the stage, Teodoro said he was “humbled” by the huge turnout.
His stringent appeal: “To all our volunteers, to the youth, to the students, this is the time to come out and make a stand. Make your voices heard, and make the people feel your strength.”
Of the undecided, he said: “We will convince the undecided by saying that competence and credibility are the key to the future of this country.”
The ruling party said it was banking on the grassroots support of more than 1,400 gubernatorial, congressional and mayoral candidates, and the youth to buck the odds, and score a victory.
The “big party” in Mandaluyong was meant to show that the city, which has 200,000 registered voters, was solidly behind Teodoro, said Mayor Benhur Abalos Jr.
He said that he, vice mayoral candidate Rene Sta. Maria, the candidates for councilor, and 26 of the 27 barangay chairpersons were “campaigning hard” for Teodoro.
“We want to tell the rest of the country that we don’t believe in surveys,” Abalos told reporters.
Teodoro had ruled out any meeting with front-runner Aquino and Estrada that could lead to his withdrawal from the presidential race.
A major TV network had reported that the camps of Aquino and Estrada had been making overtures to Teodoro to withdraw his candidacy and accept a Cabinet post or other such concession from them.
He reiterated that he had not met—and has no plans to meet—with Aquino or Estrada, and that he was not interested in any Cabinet post.
“You know my running is not because of my own interest in a Cabinet post…First and foremost I’m running to win this election,” he said.
“Secondly, I have a party to support which I will not desert. This is beyond me already. It’s for Mayor Benhur, for his constituents, for the senators, for Edu [Manzano], for the volunteers. It can’t be compromised.”
Abalos for his part, admitted that he and his father, former Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr., parted ways in their choice for President. The latter opted to cast his lot with Villar.
“I believe in Gibo, but my father has another candidate in mind,” the younger Abalos said. “I respect him, but I’m sticking to my stand.
“He’s no longer in government. He had his own problems, and he was not even helped by Malacañang,” he said, referring to the elder Abalos’ indictment for his role in the scuttled $329-M National Broadband Network deal. “He has nothing more to do with Malacañang.”
The rally came four days after reelectionist Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II announced that he was crossing over to the LP.
At Teodoro’s proclamation at the Philippine International Convention Center in November last year, Teodoro personally picked Gonzales to deliver the nominating speech.
Of all the defections, Gonzales’ was the “most shocking,” according to a party official.