Rey Langit

Teodoro still hoping for Pastor Quiboloy’s nod

Teodoro still hoping for Pastor Quiboloy’s nod
By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Pastor Apollo Quiboloy is expected to announce his presidential candidate during his birthday celebration Sunday and administration standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro Jr. hopes to hear the good news—first-hand.

“Nobody is sure of it, but we’re hoping Gibo will clinch the endorsement,” Lakas-Kampi-CMD deputy secretary general Reginald Velasco said by phone, confirming Teodoro’s attendance at the affair.

Apart from Teodoro, Quiboloy also invited vice presidential contender Edu Manzano and senatorial candidates Silvestre Bello III, Ramon Guico, Raul Lambino, Rey Langit, Senators Lito Lapid and Ramon Revilla Jr.

Other presidential aspirants, who, like Teodoro had sought Quiboloy’s endorsement since the campaign kicked off Feb. 6, are also expected to attend the celebration in Davao City.

No-shows

Quiboloy, whose sect, The Kingdom of Jesus Christ, counts 6 million members around the world, had organized a presidential forum, but front-runners Senators Benigno Aquino III and Manuel Villar Jr. were no-shows.

Quiboloy had said he would announce his candidate on his 60th birthday at the sect’s sprawling headquarters in Davao City.

With deposed President Joseph Estrada joining Aquino and Villar in the political mudslinging, Quiboloy is more likely to pick Teodoro as his candidate, according to Velasco.

“Of the four front-runners, [Teodoro] is the only one left who has not thrown mud at the other candidates. Maybe on that basis he can nail, not only Quiboloy’s endorsement, but that of the other religious leaders,” he said.

While some frown on it, Quiboloy’s endorsement is crucial to the candidacy of Teodoro, who remains in fourth place in poll surveys—behind Aquino, Villar and Estrada, according to Velasco.

“The members are very disciplined. They wear white, they are squeaky clean. Who knows? They might vote as a bloc. Six million is a big number of votes,” he said on the phone.

Party secretary general Raymundo Roquero agreed: “The leader and the members have a very close relationship. They meet regularly, they are a close-knit community. They can act with one vote.”

The 3 Cs

Meanwhile, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz clarified that as a member of the Catholic Church, he had not endorsed Teodoro or any other presidential candidate.

“We’re prohibited from doing that,” he said by phone.

In a print ad for Teodoro that appeared in the Inquirer on July 9, Cruz was quoted as having said that the former defense secretary “is the only candidate with the 3 Cs—competence, character and capability.”

GMA to party mates: Let's stick together

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).

Head count

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

Gibo: Surveys belong in the trash bin

Gibo: Surveys belong in the trash bin
By Jaime Laude
The Philippine Star

BACOLOD CITY , Philippines  – Administration presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro has a special place for surveys – in the trash can.

Campaigning here yesterday, he slammed mass media for putting too much emphasis on survey results, which he said tend to be misleading. He cited his consistently low standing in surveys amid what he said was massive support from people in the grassroots level.

“Surveys should be thrown to the trash cans,” Teodoro remarked, instead of landing on the front pages.

Teodoro told reporters to witness the outpouring of support that reflects the true preference of voters.

Pointing to the crowds that greeted him and his running mate Edu Manzano during a motorcade with key local party officials around the city yesterday, Teodoro remarked, “O, ano na ngayon ang masasabi ng survey na yan (now what can the surveys say about that).”

Manzano attended the campaign here before leaving for the US to attend the funeral of his elder brother, who died Wednesday.

Teodoro said surveys are mere guides and do not necessarily reflect the sentiment of the voting public.

Local officials led by Gov. Isidro Zayco, Rep. Monico Puentevella and President Arroyo’s brother-in-law Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo led supporters in the campaign for Teodoro and Manzano.

“It is with distinct honor to be trusted by each and everyone of you. We will be seeing each other again when we have already taken our oath of office,” Teodoro told a large gathering.

Teodoro also dismissed the reported advice of his cousin, Liberal Party (LP) presidential bet Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, to quit the race.

Aquino was said to have called on Teodoro and other presidential candidates to give up since the race has narrowed down to two candidates – him and Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party (NP).

“I am sorry, maybe that is Sen. Aquino’s opinion, but me, I will win this election because of our local support and the support of the people,” Teodoro said.

Teodoro advised Aquino not to be overconfident just because he is leading in the surveys.

“Sad to say, it is not surveys that will make you win but the support of the people and the support of the local leaders,” he said.

Teodoro said he maintains his campaign strategy of putting a positive attitude instead of engaging in political mudslinging with rivals.

The huge crowd also gave a warm reception to him candidate Rey Langit during the Plaza rally here.

“It’s very visible how the people support me, not just here, but also in other places like Tarlac, Pampanga, Bataan, Manila, and Parañaque, among others. That’s why (I) believe in the people’s voice (rather the surveys). In this case, we will emerge the winners,” Teodoro said.

He revealed former President Fidel Ramos has also advised him not to believe in surveys and stay focused on the campaign.

The secretive Ramos said he gave Teodoro unsolicited advice. “If he will stick to this advice, he has a big chance of winning the elections,” Ramos was quoted as saying.

Ramos also revealed that he gave Teodoro a “Green Book” which, he said, could be another formula in his victory.

Teodoro expressed appreciation for the book, although he admitted that he has yet to read the book since he is still busy with the campaign.

Ramos, nonetheless, said that he would soon make an official announcement with regard to his preferred candidate for the presidential race on the May 10 elections.

Retired police director Leopoldo Bataoil said the favorable endorsement of Teodoro from local officials would be a big factor in winning the elections.

Bataoil, who is seeking to represent the second congressional district of Pangasinan under the administration Lakas-Kampi-CMD, said Teodoro’s fate could be similar to Ramos’.

He said Ramos started from the bottom of the surveys and utilized the political machinery to emerge the winner in the presidential elections in 1992.

“This is what they call the FVR (Ramos) factor,” Bataoil said.

“I am optimistic that he (Teodoro) will become our president,” he added.

Ramos founded the Lakas party along with Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr.

When Ramos was elected president in 1992, De Venecia was also elected congressman and became Speaker of the House of Representatives for more than three successive terms until he was ousted in 2008.

The Pangasinan lawmaker had a falling out with President Arroyo and administration allies following the revelations of his son Joey about the alleged interest of Mrs. Arroyo’s husband in the $329-million broadband contract with Chinese firm ZTE Corp. The First Gentleman denied Joey’s accusation.

De Venecia then criticized the move of Lakas leaders to merge with Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi), the political party founded by Mrs. Arroyo.

The Pangasinan lawmaker led the “Lakas originals” in questioning the merger before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

De Venecia recently announced that he would support Teodoro only if he regains control of Lakas.

Teodoro, on the other hand, said De Venecia must come out and support him instead of working to regain control of the administration party.

Teodoro said De Venecia is “a little in the wrong side.”

“He (De Venecia) has to come with me now,” he said.

“I am the presidential candidate, he has to support me this time. I did support him for two speakerships,” said Teodoro, who had served as Tarlac congressman.

The younger De Venecia, meanwhile, urged the Comelec to run a precinct level test of the automated system, fearing massive disenfranchisement of voters on election day because of possible bottlenecks in the new voting system.

De Venecia said there simply is not enough time to vote.

“With all the secrecy and uncertainty over how the system will actually work, there is a high probability that the majority of the electorate will not be able to cast their votes on May 10,” he said.

De Venecia pointed out the potential bottleneck of voters not having enough time to cast their votes considering the long list of candidates in the ballot.

He said the merger of three to five voting precincts into one could spell trouble, particularly for first-time voters under the new automated voting system.

He said the 250,000 precincts established in 2007 had been compressed to only 82,000.

“This means that two-thirds of the electorate will have to find out first where they can vote,” De Venecia said. – With Eva Visperas, Jose Rodel Clapano

Gibo not backing out from race

Gibo not backing out from race
By Paolo Romero
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard-bearer Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro yesterday denied rumors that he is backing out of the presidential race amid reports that his political party is lacking support from top administration officials.

“Such rumors are originating from sectors who will cast aside all notions of decency to satiate their salivation and hunger for power through the presidency,” Teodoro said in a statement. “Unfortunately, such is commonplace in Philippine politics, which reinforces my determination to make a stand to continue the fight. I will settle for no less than victory, our people deserve no less.”

Teodoro was rumored to be quitting the race after his sudden resignation as Lakas chairman, supposedly to concentrate on his campaign.

His resignation triggered the departure of party leaders including Lakas president Sarangani Gov. Miguel Dominguez and party secretary-general Francis Manglapus.

First Gentleman Mike Arroyo is also allegedly supporting Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar in secret, the purported reason why the administration party is lacking campaign funds.

Lakas senatorial candidate lawyer Raul Lambino and veteran radio broadcast Rey Langit said such reports were part of a “disinformation campaign” made to divide the party.

“I think none of us six Lakas-Kampi-CMD senate bets knew of or has personal knowledge that FG (First Gentleman) was instigating our local executive party mates to switch sides. Those reports could just be part of a disinformation campaign aimed at derailing Gibo’s presidential bid,” Lambino said.

Party officials are meeting tomorrow at the Linden Suites in Pasig City to discuss the issue of campaign funds.

“Hopefully, the matter of funds would be satisfactorily addressed to save the administration campaign,” said a member of the administration party who requested anonymity.

CBCP: Clergy may join revolt

CBCP: Clergy may join revolt
By Evelyn Macairan
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – A ranking official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said yesterday some members of the clergy are planning to join another popular revolt in the event of a failure of elections.

Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, CBCP Public Affairs Committee chairman, said a failure of elections where no president is proclaimed would force people to take to the streets.

“This (event) is one of those instances when the people would need guidance (from us),” Iniguez said.

Iniguez clarified that it is up to each member of the CBCP to decide whether to join such protest actions.

Iniguez said the statements made by Malacañang officials in playing up the scenario of a military takeover in the event of scuttled elections are not helping President Arroyo.

Iniguez appealed to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to exert all effort to ensure that the elections on May 10 would be clean and peaceful.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo called on critics to stop discussing a scenario that he said will never happen.

“Let us not talk about failure of elections. There will be elections nationwide,” Melo said.

Melo noted that talk of a failure of elections snowballed following the pronouncement of deputy presidential spokesperson Charito Planas, who played up the possibility of a military junta taking over the government if elections fall through.

Melo said the declaration of failure of elections occurs only in isolated cases, such as in areas where violence prevents the people from casting their votes.

“Failure of elections happens for reasons that cannot be controlled like when there is violence and the people opted not to go out and vote,” Melo explained.

Melo said such a scenario occurring on a nationwide scale was highly improbable because the elections on May 10 would be fully automated.

Commissioner Rene Sarmiento earlier advised the public to simply go out and vote on May 10 to defeat the possibility of a failure of elections.

“Even if the all precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines did not work on Election Day – which is impossible – elections will still occur if the voters showed up and voted… these ballots can still be appreciated and counted manually, just like in the past elections,” Sarmiento explained.

Under the Omnibus Election Code, the Comelec can only declare a failure of elections if the voters are not able to cast their votes due to forces beyond their control like earthquake, tsunami, terrorist attack or other violent incidents.

Self-defeating attitude

Administration presidential candidate Gilberto Teodoro, for his part, said talk of a failure of elections are pure speculation and pessimism.

“For me, I would speculate that we should focus on who wins in (the) elections. We must win in the elections and when we speculate on no proclamation, that is very, very self defeating,” he said.

Teodoro made the remark in reaction to his cousin, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, warning of another people power revolt in the event of a failure of elections.

“It’s now incumbent on the Comelec to ensure that there would be credible, honest and acceptable elections,” the former Defense chief said.

Teodoro said talking about the possibility of a failure of elections at this point is short of admitting losing the presidential elections.

Lakas-Kampi-CMD senatorial candidate Rey Langit urged candidates to stop floating the idea of another people power revolution, saying this was a mere hypothetical issue, doing more harm than good to the country.

Langit said the ordinary people would suffer the brunt of ensuing political and economic instability, proven by the two EDSA revolts and several failed coup attempts.

Another senatorial candidate, Hector Tarrazona, also sees another popular revolt in the event of a failure of elections.

Tarrazona, of Ang Kapatiran party, said he saw what he called a “striking similarity” of the events that led to the two popular revolts that unseated two sitting presidents in 1986 and 2001.

Tarrazona, a retired Air Force colonel, pointed out the appointments of favorite military and police officials to key posts had destroyed professionalism in the ranks that led to the ouster of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

He claimed a growing demoralization among key officials in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police who were bypassed in the appointments.

Tarrazona likened the scenario in 1986 to the current situation, warning that if President Arroyo would push through on her alleged plans to stay beyond her term on June 30, a popular revolt would result, and this time, it might not be peaceful.

“My feeling is that it could be bloody if President Arroyo (pushes) herself,” he said.

Caretaker president

Talks on the possible failure of elections and no proclamation of a new president prompted several lawmakers to propose a measure on succession.

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon had proposed a caretaker president, citing the widespread apprehensions that the elections might fail due to the still unsolved power shortage problem in Mindanao and possible glitches in the automated balloting process.

Biazon also noted the fact that the terms of office of all three constitutional successors – Vice President Noli de Castro, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Prospero Nograles – are expiring at noon on June 30, along with that of President Arroyo.

In the event of an election failure and none of the three can assume the presidency even temporarily, it is feared that Mrs. Arroyo might hold on to power with the support of the military and the Supreme Court.

But other lawmakers led by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the proposal for Congress to choose a caretaker president in case there is a failure of elections on May 10 will run afoul of the Constitution.

“There is no such thing in the Constitution. A caretaker president is not among the three constitutional successors to the presidency,” he said.

Rodriguez said there is no need for a caretaker president as Biazon proposes, as incumbent senators can actually ensure the line of succession is not broken.

Rodriguez suggested that once it is clear after May 10 that there would be problems in determining the winning presidential and vice presidential candidates, senators could elect a replacement for Enrile.

“The replacement should come from the 12 whose terms of office will expire in 2013 so that at noon on June 30, he can take over from Mrs. Arroyo as acting president until the president-elect or vice president-elect is proclaimed,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said this is in accordance with Article VII (Executive Department) Section 7 of the Constitution, which reads:

“Where no President and Vice President shall have been chosen or shall have qualified, or where both shall have died or become permanently disabled, the President of the Senate, or in case of his inability, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall act as President until a President or Vice President shall have been chosen and qualified.”

“It is clear from this provision that incumbent senators hold the key to preventing an extended term for GMA or a military takeover in case elections fail,” Rodriguez stressed.

He said senators could elect their new leader on May 31, when Congress resumes session principally to canvass the votes for president and vice president.

“By then, it should be clear if there would be problems in proclaiming the winning presidential and vice presidential candidates,” Rodriguez said.

Enrile, who is seeking reelection, has expressed willingness to relinquish his post “at the proper time.”

Enrile said he himself would initiate the selection of his replacement if there were a failure of elections on May 10. –With Jess Diaz, Jaime Laude, Mayen Jaymalin, Perseus Echeminada

Ex-broadcasters’ lament: Why ‘unfair’ coverage of Bangon Pilipinas?

Ex-broadcasters’ lament: Why ‘unfair’ coverage of Bangon Pilipinas?
GMA News

MANDAUE CITY, Cebu — Two former broadcasters both seeking Senate seats expressed dismay at how members of their erstwhile industry are covering the elections, saying more prominent parties are getting the lion’s share of coverage on television programs and broadsheets.

Bangon Pilipinas senatorial bets Kata Inocencio and Alex Tinsay on Tuesday questioned why the presidential bets leading in surveys, such as Senators Benigno Aquino III and Manuel Villar Jr., are most covered rather than their party standard bearer Bro. Eddie Villanueva.

Inocencio, who had been in broadcasting for 24 years, said media was contributing to the “degradation” of the electoral system by supposedly failing to acquaint the public with reformist candidates.

“Media is misleading the public towards suicide, towards electing the wrong people. And I would say it courageously — it’s a shame that media is doing a great disservice to the public,” Inocencio told GMANews.TV.

For his part, Tinsay slammed media for “believing in surveys” and supposedly failing to highlight Villanueva’s so-called appeal to the masses.

“I’ve been harping about how we are getting an unfair share of coverage. I challenge them to find out for themselves if we [our party] really don’t have support. Bro. Eddie draws a sea of humanity wherever he goes. How come that is not shown [on television],” added Tinsay, who said he spent 30 years as a broadcast journalist.

Poor showing

He and Inocencio perform poorly in Pulse Asia’s recent survey on most preferred senatorial candidates. [See: Revilla, Estrada lead senatorial race in Pulse survey; Miriam among top gainers]

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility recently said that television newscasts covered former President Joseph Estrada the most. He was followed by Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., administration bet Gilberto Teodoro Jr., Sen. Benigno Aquino III, and Sen. Richard Gordon.

Getting lower airtimes were Olongapo City Councilor JC de Los Reyes, Villanueva, Sen. Jamby Madrigal, recently disqualified Vetellano Acosta, and environmentalist Nicanor Perlas. [See: CMFR: Erap most covered by TV]

Ironically, Inocencio admitted that “it is just how the way things go.”

“I have been a major network’s news gathering head for four years. I know how it works. It’s unfortunate that broadcast stations and publications are businesses and their goal is to make money and not true public service,” she said.

For his part, Tinsay, a former GMA News reporter, admitted that media is sometimes limited by airtime or space constraints in publications. “I am not really surprised,” he said.

Broadcasters-turned-politicians

Aside from Tinsay and Inocencio, veteran radio broadcaster Rey Langit is also seeking to enter the Senate under the administration’s Lakas-Kampi-CMD ticket.

UNTV station manger and former television host Jay Sonza, meanwhile, is seeking the vice presidency under the Kilusan ng Bagong Lipunan banner. The same goes with Nationalist People’s Coalition vice presidential bet Loren Legarda, also a broadcast journalist before venturing into politics in the 1998 elections.

The most prominent broadcaster to reach a high elective post was Vice President Noli de Castro, a news anchor and radio broadcaster for almost two decades before entering the political ring as a Senator in 2001. He won the vice presidency in the 2004 elections.

But Inocencio said she ran for senator not because she wanted to follow De Castro’s steps.

“Generally, any celebrity or media personality has an advantage because of fame and popularity. But that’s not the reason why the people will vote for me. I have talked to them, and they said they’ll vote for me because of my track record for fighting injustices and corruption as a journalist,” Inocencio said.

She and Tinsay likewise encouraged the public to scrutinize senatorial bets, whose frontrunners in a recent Pulse Asia survey are re-electionists or scions of political families. The survey ranked all 61 aspirants according to preference [See: Revilla, Estrada lead senatorial race in Pulse survey; Miriam among top gainers and Pulse Asia’s 2010 senatorial preference survey results (Feb. 21 to 25).]

Bangon Pilipinas’ senatorial aspirants fared poorly in the same survey, with a +/- 2.2 percent error margin.

Of the 61 senatorial aspirants, singer Imelda Papin ranked 25-35, Ramoncito Ocampo ranked 31-47, Zafrullah Alonto ranked 37-56, Inocenio ranked 37-57, Zosimo Jesus Paredes and Tinsay ranked 39-61, Adz Nikabulin ranked 43-61, while lawyers Reynaldo Princesa and Israel Virgines ranked 48-61. – RSJ, GMANews.TV

Teodoro urges Mindanao residents to stop culture of violence

Teodoro urges Mindanao residents to stop culture of violence
By Jaime Laude
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential candidate Gilberto Teodoro Jr. yesterday urged Mindanao residents to stop the culture of violence that has been hampering development in the region and instead promote lasting peace.

Teodoro was referring to the practice of “rido” or blood debt, which he said stands in the way of progress in Mindanao.

The rido culture, a ritual killing anchored on revenge, is most common among Muslim clans as well as other tribes in the region.

“If we would persist in implementing the ‘eye for an eye’ for every offense committed against us, then the whole world will go blind,” Teodoro told local political and tribal leaders in Mindanao in a recent dialogue.

He said that while he respects Muslim traditions, there are some practices that spawn hatred and murder among members of the religion.

“If we can get our Muslim brothers to forget about this senseless tradition of rido and get them to stop carrying guns in their culture, I believe that Mindanao will be able to reach its maximum economic potential,” the presidential aspirant said.

He said Mindanao has vast arable land to ensure the country’s food security.

Teodoro said instead of killing each other, Muslims should establish a culture of peace to achieve economic development.

He urged Mindanao’s political and religious leaders to work together to stop violence and promote love and respect for others.

Meanwhile, two Lakas-Kampi-CMD senatorial candidates urged the national and local governments to implement cash-for-work programs to help ordinary farmers affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

Senate bets broadcaster Rey Langit and League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) president Ramon Guico said the adverse effects of the long dry spell, particularly in Northern and Central Luzon, have rendered most ordinary farmers jobless with nothing to feed their families.

“People are starving in El Niño-affected areas and I don’t think we should just sit down and do nothing,” Langit said.

Langit said cash-for-work in all government agricultural projects, repair of classrooms and schools or other jobs that would involve fixing government facilities in the affected areas could be implemented.

The private sector, he added, should also be encouraged to support the cash-for-work programs by prioritizing the employment of affected farmers in some temporary jobs.

Guico, who is also the mayor of Binalonan, Pangasinan, said the food-for-work program would provide rice to feed the families of affected farmers instead of giving them cash.

He said the funds could come from the local calamity fund of each town or province or directly come from the government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“If and when implemented, there should be some safeguards for the program so it won’t be exploited by the incumbent officials seeking reelection or running for other elective posts,” Guico said.

“Among them is coordination with the Commission on Elections and allowing trusted non-government organizations to supervise the cash-for-work or food-for-work programs,” he added.