GMA to party mates: Let’s stick together
By Paolo Romero
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – President Arroyo directed yesterday her party mates to “stick together” and ensure the victory of administration presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro and the Lakas-Kampi-CMD with the elections just three weeks away.
Mrs. Arroyo gave the orders during a closed-door meeting of some 120 administration congressional candidates and top Lakas-Kampi officials at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City.
Mrs. Arroyo is president emeritus of the party.
The President arrived at around 2 p.m., shortly after Teodoro left to lead a campaign sortie in Antipolo City.
“As your President, I think I have given you good performance in the last nine years. I hope we will continue this. Let us unite so we can have continued growth,” presidential adviser for political affairs Prospero Pichay quoted Mrs. Arroyo as saying during her 30-minute meeting with the lawmakers.
“Gibo Teodoro understands the economic problems of our country. Let us unite and stick together and make Gibo win on May 10,” she said.
Pichay said Mrs. Arroyo wanted to ensure that Lakas-Kampi remains as the dominant party.
However, there was no mention of the recent high-profile defections from the party, Lakas-Kampi president Francis Manglapus said in a news briefing.
Pichay said those who attended were part of the 160 administration congressmen or half of the membership of the House of Representatives solidly backing Teodoro.
He said the party was expecting a “10 percent fatality” or defections but less than one percent left.
Former Presidential Management Staff director general Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who is running in Pangasinan’s 6th district, said Mrs. Arroyo was upbeat.
Many congressional candidates took the floor and told the President that they will not abandon Teodoro, Manglapus said.
“We are firmly convinced that he has the character, honesty, integrity, competence and high intellect that the next president of our country must possess in order to face the immense challenges facing our country and the global community in the next six years,” the lawmakers said in their manifesto.
Teodoro, in the meantime, belied reports that another mass defection of key party members is in the offing, describing this as more political black propaganda.
The administration bet issued the statement in Antipolo City before meeting with local officials led by Mayor Danilo Leyble in what observers said was a show of force.
Among the lawmakers present at the Dusit meeting were some from the so-called Northern Alliance.
There were earlier reports that Rep. Eric Singson got the Northern Luzon lawmakers to shift loyalty from Teodoro to Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr.
“While their personal commitment is important to me, it is also equally important to show the public that reports of the looming defections of key party members are not all true,” said Teodoro.
After meeting with his supporters at city hall, Teodoro, running mate Edu Manzano and senatorial candidate Rey Langit proceeded to the Rizal provincial capitol where they were welcomed by Rizal Gov. Casimiro Ynares for a closed-door meeting.
Ynares is a stalwart of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
The administration party is trying hard to solve the problem of defection that has been hounding them in the past weeks.
Banking on unopposed bets
What makes the administration party movers optimistic of a victory is the fact that aside from the categorical support, at least 26 mayoral and vice mayoral bets in Cagayan Valley, most of them Teodoro supporters, are assured of victory because they are running unopposed.
Records obtained from the Commission on Elections showed that of the 13 unopposed mayoralty candidates, six are from northernmost mainland Cagayan province, four are from Isabela, two from Nueva Vizcaya and one from Quirino.
The same number of unopposed bets for vice mayor is noted in the region’s four mainland provinces, and most are also allied with Teodoro.
“This is what will make Gibo very strong in Isabela with all the mayors behind him. As far as we are concerned Gibo will take Isabela,” said three-term Rep. Faustino Dy III, now running for governor under the administration party.
“We are still 110 percent behind Gibo,” stressed Dy amid the defections of some administration stalwarts to other political parties.
Governors Cua of Quirino and Antonio of Cagayan said that a majority of their provinces’ mayors, including those running unopposed, are also rooting for Teodoro.
“Our support for Gibo Teodoro has never waned. We have been consulting our constituents and we can say that most are for Gibo,” said Cua, now running for congressman while his father, Rep. Cua, is seeking the governorship. Charlie Lagasca, Jaime Laude