MANILA - Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro sees defections from the ruling party as an opportunity rather than a liability.
Teodoro, who has been lagging behind presidential surveys, said defections are an opportunity to recruit "new blood" into the ruling party.
"It's a reality in politics. It's expected of some members to jump to other parties. It's a big opportunity to recruit new members who truly believe in the party's principles," he told ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda (UKG).
Teodoro issued the statement amid mass defections from the Lakas-Kampi-CMD to "emerging" strong parties, namely the Liberal Party (LP) of Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and Nacionalista Party (NP) of Sen. Manuel Villar.
Lakas-Kampi-CMD old-timer Quezon City Mayor Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr. and Caloocan City Mayor Enrico "Recom" Echiverri were scheduled to be sworn in as new LP members on Thursday.
The oathtaking was scheduled on the same day as the Lakas-Kampi-CMD's national convention at the Philippine International Convention Center, where Teodoro and his running mate TV host Edu Manzano were to be formally proclaimed as the administration's tandem for the 2010 national elections.
On Wednesday, Villar swore in 600 administration allies at the local level to his party.
The pack of defectors was led by Lakas-Kampi-CMD member Daval del Sur 1st District Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas, whose father, Gov. Douglas Cagas, recently joined Villar's party.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who was among those who turned down the offer to become Teodoro's running mate and Lakas-Kampi-CMD's vice-president for Mindanao, said at least 40 percent of the total party members have defected either to NP or LP.
Leaving weak candidate
NP spokesman, former Congressman Gilbert Remulla, told ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda that the defections are based on the survey ratings of presidential candidates.
"They are looking at the numbers of the presidentiables," Remulla said, adding that from 50 incumbents, the NP now has at least 2,600 incumbents since they started the recruitment.
Even before Teodoro's cousin, Noynoy Aquino, declared his presidential bid, Teodoro has been at the low end of presidential surveys.
Aquino led Pulse Asia's October 2009 survey with 44% preference, a 25% lead over Villar's 19%.
Sen. Francis Escudero, with 13% preference, was statistically tied in third place with former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, who got 11% support.
Vice-President Noli de Castro, who is reportedly backing out of the presidential derby, was next with 4%.
Teodoro remained at the bottom of the survey together with Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Bayani Fernando with 2% and 1%, respectively.