Douglas Cagas

Nograles' departure from Lakas no big loss – Teodoro

Nograles’ departure from Lakas no big loss – Teodoro
By Jaime Laude
The Philippine Star

CABANATUAN CITY , Philippines  – Administration standard-bearer Gilberto Teodoro said Speaker Prospero Nograles’ decision to bolt the administration Lakas-Kampi-CMD is no big loss to his presidential bid.

“It will not affect my presidential bid. He is not a big loss to us. Anyway, he has not been that eager to help me ever since,” Teodoro said yesterday.

Nograles confirmed yesterday that he is about to leave the administration Lakas-Kampi because it is “out of control” and in total disarray, “contrary to what is being bandied about in the media.”

Nograles, the party’s vice chairman, however, would not say if he is joining the Nacionalista Party (NP) or going independent, or when he is leaving the ruling party. He is running for mayor of Davao City.

Aside from Nograles, there are other party members who have bolted the party, like Lakas stalwart Mandaluyong Rep. Boyet Gonzales who joined the Liberal Party (LP).

Teodoro said Nograles has never been an ally in his presidential bid because in the first place he has never campaigned for him.

“I’ve been expecting it because I’ve been hearing reports about it since long ago,” Teodoro told reporters during a proclamation rally here.

Confused

In a statement, Nograles said he is deserting the ruling party because of so much confusion.

“We are still confused as to what is happening to our party. As a senior party officer, I do not know what’s happening because they make decisions without the courtesy of even briefing us. Now, what’s the use of being with the administration party,” Nograles said.

Two weeks ago, when Lakas-Kampi leaders met to elect their new chairman and president, Nograles said he was not even invited.

“I am a senior party member and a good soldier. I deserve some respect,” he added.

He lamented that what is “even more infuriating” is that seven of his campaign volunteers have died and the administration, particularly police and military officials in Davao City, is not doing anything about it.

Nograles claimed that these officials are under the influence of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a close friend of President Arroyo.

“They are killing our campaign volunteers and there is a clear and present threat on my life by the New People’s Army under Kumander Parago, but I’m not getting any help. It would be better that we do this all by ourselves than expect something that isn’t going to happen,” he said.

He pointed out that being the Lakas-Kampi mayoral candidate in Davao City, he is supposed “to get every help from the administration, even just for the protection of my campaign volunteers, but this cannot happen with the Dutertes controlling the security forces in Davao City.”

The Speaker also assailed the ruling party’s decision to designate Madeline “Bebot” Marfori, Mrs. Arroyo’s assistant for special projects, as its chief campaigner in Davao City.

“She is a supporter of the Dutertes, who are supporting the candidacy of Noynoy (Sen. Benigno Aquino III). Who are they trying to fool? I can only sympathize with Gibo because he is counting on people with interests other than to make him win,” he said.

He also has a complaint against Teodoro, who he said went to Davao City once without even informing him.

Teodoro, for his part, said that despite his closeness with Mayor Duterte, he never solicited his help to support him.

More defections

Compostela Valley Gov. Arthur Uy has also bolted the ruling Lakas-Kampi and joined the NP.

“I have resigned from Lakas because of the confusion in the party. I do not understand anymore what is going on in the party,” said Uy, who tendered his resignation last April 8.

Also yesterday, LP campaign manager Florencio Abad disclosed that Lakas member Rizal Gov. Casimiro “Junjun” Ynares has joined the opposition party.

Rep. Gonzales, who is running unopposed in the lone district, took his oath yesterday before LP standard-bearer Aquino at the LP headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City.

“It is not easy to leave the party that did nothing wrong to me. But let me say that I am running unopposed and there is no need for me to change parties. But at the bottom of my heart, I am rooting for Noynoy and Sen. Mar Roxas,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, administration senatorial candidate lawyer Raul Lambino said the defection of party members only showed the true colors of these politicians, whom he described as traditional politicians who have no loyalty to the party but their own vested interests.

Meanwhile, former Surigao representative and Lakas senatorial campaign manager Prospero Pichay said they respect Nograles’ decision to leave.

“As a whole, the party remains steadfast behind the candidacies of Teodoro, Edu Manzano and our senatorial slate,” he said.

“The party owes a lot to Speaker Nograles. He is a good friend, former colleague and fellow Mindanaoan, so I am personally saddened by his decision.”

Palace to stem possible breakup

Malacañang moved yesterday to prevent a possible breakup of Lakas-Kampi following Speaker Nograles’ and other key allies in Congress’ decision to bolt the party.

Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said the administration was concerned over the reports because it would adversely affect the campaign of Teodoro, who is struggling in pre-election surveys with the elections less than a month away.

“Definitely, the Lakas-Kampi-CMD should do something about this (major defection). You know this is not the time for a major political party to break up just like that,” Mendoza told reporters at the Centennial Terminal after sending off President Arroyo.

“Not this time especially when the elections is less than a month away,” he said. “For the party, it should be a cause for concern.”

He said the hardest hit would be Teodoro and the rest of the ruling party’s national candidates, Manzano and the six senatorial candidates.

Mendoza said he has not talked with Mrs. Arroyo about the development.

Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said Lakas-Kampi and Deputy Speaker Amelita Villarosa have their “work cut out for them in terms of keeping the party together and solid and effective in the campaign.”

“We continue to believe that Teodoro is the best man for the job and we continue to believe that he deserves the wholehearted support of his party mates,” Olivar told a news briefing.

He said it was not yet clear whether the President, who is president emeritus of the party, would intervene as she remains focused on governance.

“As a practical matter, she intervenes only on what we can call presidential moments or presidential occasions when the President needs to intervene in party issues,” he said.

Dimaporos for Gibo

Meanwhile, in Lanao del Norte, the powerful and influential Dimaporo clan in the province vowed to support Teodoro’s presidential bid.

During a rally, Lanao del Norte second district Rep. Abdullah “Bobby” Dimaporo said he and his family decided to stick it out with Teodoro because he is the best among the presidential bets in the country today.

Meanwhile, the Nacionalista Party welcomed yesterday reports that Nograles and at least 30 congressmen are joining the NP camp.

NP senatorial candidate and spokesman Gilbert Remulla said Nograles and his allies’ move “may be the most viable option” for them because Davao Mayor Duterte – known political enemy of Nograles – has openly supported the presidential bid of LP’s Aquino.

Even without official confirmation from the NP camp, Nograles’ move is forthcoming because Villar and his partymates have been going to Davao a number of times, purportedly to get local support.

The NP now enjoys the support of Davao del Sur first district Rep. Douglas Cagas. The NP is also preparing to stage a Rockatropa-Wowowillie-cum-political rally this coming week.

Another NP senatorial bet, Adel Tamano, said the big possibility that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will approve coalition of the NP and Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and award it the dominant minority status could be major reasons why most local candidates are shifting alliances to the NP.

“The possible reason why other groups might want to join the NP is because of the NP-NPC coalition. Since this has already been given legal status, we’re just a step away from being declared the dominant minority party,” Tamano said.

According to Tamano, the declaration of dominant minority party under the Fair Elections Act would allow the party to get a copy of the election returns and an individual server.

National candidates can monitor and guard their votes by gaining immediate access to certificates of canvass at the provincial, municipal and city levels.

“For the local candidates, the ERs are very, very important. But once the NP-NPC coalition gets the dominant minority status, that is an additional incentive why local parties will want to join us,” Tamano said. – With Paolo Romero, Jess Diaz, Perseus Echeminada, Edith Regalado, Jun Elias, Delon Porcalla, Christina Mendez

Arroyo party breaking up; First Gentleman blamed

Arroyo party breaking up; First Gentleman blamed
Mike A ‘called up’ Garcias to back Villar
By TJ Burgonio, Aquiles Zonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Reports that First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo is backing another presidential candidate forced Gilbert Teodoro Jr. to quit as chair of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, party mates said Wednesday.

The administration party teetered on disintegration after Lakas president Sarangani Gov. Miguel “Migz” Dominguez and party secretary general Francis Manglapus followed Teodoro’s lead and quit their posts Wednesday.

“It’s true. The First Gentleman and his allies are supporting Manny Villar. That may have triggered Teodoro’s resignation,” said a Lakas senatorial candidate, who asked not to be named.

Even before the start of the national campaign on Feb. 9, it was an “open secret” among his party mates that Mike Arroyo was bankrolling the campaign of the Nacionalista Party presidential candidate, the administration senatorial candidate said.

“And he (Teodoro) doesn’t believe that GMA (President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) doesn’t know about this,” he added.

Teodoro quit as party chair Tuesday purportedly to focus on his campaign, and to allow the party to tap a full-time chair who could respond to the needs of local officials.

Because of reports that Mike Arroyo is backing Villar, the NP standard-bearer’s allies in Lakas-Kampi-CMD, especially the original members of Kampi, have started to defect to Villar’s camp. The most recent among them was Cebu Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, according to the Lakas senatorial candidate.

A number of Lakas stalwarts in Mindanao have also declared their support for Villar—among them Davao del Sur Gov. Douglas Cagas, who also defected to the NP; Compostela Valley Gov. Arturo Uy, the Lakas chair in the province; and Bukidnon Gov. Jose Zubiri.

Luis “Chavit” Singson, presidential assistant on national security, also recently announced his resignation as Lakas coordinator in Ilocos and declared himself an independent candidate for governor of Ilocos Sur. Later he said he was backing Villar.

He said he had to address his differences with the Lakas standard-bearer. “When Gibo was secretary of defense, he did not give me an appointment. Despite my many attempts for us to meet, he did not give me time,” Singson said.

More than halfway through the campaign, the former defense secretary trails Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, Villar and deposed President Joseph Estrada in surveys, stuck at 6 percent.

Gossip

The opposition has claimed that Villar who is battling Aquino for No. 1 in the polls was Ms Arroyo’s “secret candidate,” an allegation dismissed by presidential spokespersons as “black propaganda.”

“That’s absolutely, completely false. That’s gossip. As far as I know, they’re supporting Gibo,” Mike Arroyo’s lawyer Ruy Rondain said.

But a second source confirmed that Teodoro’s resignation was prompted by the Arroyos’ support for Villar.

Mike’s call to Garcias

A party official, who requested anonymity, said Teodoro uncovered the shift of support when members of the Garcia family of Cebu decided to jump ship and support Villar.

When the support of the Garcias for Villar became public, Teodoro went to Cebu and confronted Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia, the source said.

Only the governor has remained in the Teodoro camp among the Garcias.

“Gibo was so furious when he learned of the Garcias’ support of Villar. So he went to Cebu to talk with Gwen. There, he was informed about what really took place,” the source said.

He said “Gwen told Gibo during their one-on-one talk that the First Gentleman had called them up, the reason why other members of the Garcia clan switched support to Villar.”

Villar’s denial

As expected, Villar denied that he was the “secret” candidate of Malacañang and that he was enjoying financial support from the Arroyos.

“I did not ask [for money] from Malacañang and I don’t wish to receive any,” Villar said in a statement quoting what he said in a press conference.

He maintained that he was not an administration accomplice, noting that as then chair of the Senate committee on public order, he headed the probe of “jueteng,” an illegal numbers game, that allegedly involved Ms Arroyo and some members of her family.

He also pointed out that NP stalwarts Gilbert Remulla and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano led the congressional inquiries into the “Hello Garci” and ZTE-NBN scandals.

Since his ouster from the Senate presidency, Villar said he had not talked to either Ms Arroyo or her husband.

Lack of funds

Teodoro’s decision to quit and run his own campaign was proof of the party’s lack of funds, according to Mayor Ramon Guico of Binalonan, Pangasinan.

“That shows that the party has no money,” said Guico, also a Lakas senatorial candidate.

“We’re aware that local candidates are badgering him (Teodoro) for funds. But what if the party doesn’t give him any funds? What can he do? How can the machinery campaign for him if there are no funds?” said Guico.

Guico, president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, said he received a barrage of text messages from mayors Wednesday, asking whether the party had funds.

Two weeks ago, Teodoro said he had received funds from the party, but was unaware if the senatorial candidates had received any.

Need for full-time chair

Reggie Velasco, deputy secretary general, maintained that there was nothing more to Teodoro’s resignation than the need for a full-time chair to attend to the needs of local officials.

“We have funds. But with so many candidates running, there has to be someone who is agreeable to make optimal use of these funds,” he said by phone.

Even before party members could come to grips with Teodoro’s resignation, Dominguez and Manglapus quit Wednesday as president and secretary general, respectively.

Courtesy to the Excom

After talking on the phone Wednesday morning, Manglapus said he and Dominguez offered their resignations to the executive committee to give it a free hand in choosing the next chair.

But like Teodoro, both are staying on as party members.

“After Gilbert decided to relinquish his post, it’s just natural [for us to resign] as a courtesy to the executive committee so they will have the flexibility to decide who will be the next chair,” Manglapus said at the party headquarters on EDSA.

Besides, he added: “We came in as a package.” He, however, said he might reconsider his resignation should the party decide to retain him as secretary general.

In the party’s Nov. 19, 2009, convention, party members approved resolutions nominating Teodoro as chair, Edu Manzano as vice chair, Dominguez as president and Manglapus as secretary general.

If the principle of automatic succession were followed, either Manzano or his fellow vice chair Oscar Moreno would replace Teodoro, officials said.

Manglapus, son of the late Sen. Raul Manglapus, said he would now focus solely on Teodoro’s campaign, while Dominguez would focus on his reelection as governor.

Manglapus squelched speculations that Teodoro had in effect abandoned the party, and even his candidacy.

“We’re going full blast with the campaign,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s still the official candidate of Lakas-Kampi-CMD.”

Demoralized

Teodoro’s announcement, however, has shocked many of his party mates, leaving some of them demoralized.

Guico said he was “hurt” and “demoralized” by the resignation because Teodoro did not consult him and the other senatorial candidates.

“We’re like children abandoned by their father. He should have consulted us,” he said.

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay demanded that party leaders call a meeting. “They should explain to us what really happened. We have a right to know.”

Nograles confused

Speaker Prospero Nograles was among those taken aback by the spate of resignations from Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

“The resignation is a shock to me and (was made) without any consultation from us, the previous leaders of the party. I am now confused and seem to be out of the loop,” Nograles said in a text message to reporters.

Nograles said the local troops were also confused. “What has happened to our party? To each his own?” he asked.

What would happen now to the campaigns of Manzano and the six Lakas senatorial candidates?

“Everything is status quo. It’s best for the party. They can take care of the needs of the local candidates,” Manglapus said.

Dominguez said majority of the members of the League of the Provincial Governors of the Philippines were still behind Teodoro.

Asked why he resigned as Lakas president, Dominguez said he was only following Teodoro. “I go where my party chair goes,” he said. With a report from Gil Cabacungan