Nograles: What's happening to our party?
MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) - Two top officials of the ruling Lakas-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-KAMPI-CMD) tendered their resignations on Wednesday, a day after the party's standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro gave up his role as party chairman.
Sarangani Gov. Rene Miguel Dominguez said he resigned as party president to allow the next Lakas-KAMPI chairman a free hand in choosing his replacement. Hours later, Lakas-KAMPI-CMD secretary general Francis Xavier Manglapus also followed suit, citing similar reasons.
In their resignation letters, the two officials cited the recent resignation of Gilbert Teodoro as chairman of the Lakas-KAMPI-CMD party. Both thanked the party's National Executive Committee for being given the privilege to serve the party.
Dominguez and Manglapus were proclaimed national president and secretary general, respectively, of the ruling Lakas-KAMPI-CMD party in November 2009.
Dominguez is the incumbent governor of Sarangani province. He is seeking a third term under the Sarangani Reconciliation and Reformation Organization (SARRO), which has a tie-up with Lakas-KAMPI-CMD. The bets from SARRO are up against the full slate of the People's Champ Party (PCP), led by boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, who has tie ups with the Nacionalista Party. (Read: Pacquiao faces tough fight vs Chiongbians)
Teodoro tendered his resignation as chairman of the ruling party on Tuesday. He said he wants to focus on his presidential campaign. He said the party needs a chairman who can respond on a 24/7 basis to the needs of its candidates. (Read: Gibo quits as Lakas-Kampi chairman)
Nograles: What has happened to our party?
Top Lakas-KAMPI officials, meanwhile, admitted that they were surprised by the sudden resignations of Teodoro and Dominguez just 40 days before the May 10 elections.
House Speaker Prospero Nograles said he was shocked with the resignation of Teodoro as party chairman since it was done "without any consultation from us, the previous leaders of the party."
Nograles, the vice-chairman of Lakas-KAMPI-CMD, said he is "now confused and seems to be out of the loop" since he does not know what's happening to the party.
"The local troops are now as confused over this event," Nograles, who is running for mayor of Davao City, said.
On Dominguez's resignation as party president, Nograles said: "What has happened to our party? To each his own?"
Caught by surprise
Lakas-KAMPI deputy secretary-general Raymundo Roquero admitted he was caught by surprise by the resignation of Dominguez since he was just talking to the Sarangani governor the other day to discuss the schedule of campaign sorties of the Lakas-KAMPI-CMD candidate.
"Medyo nabigla din tayo. Hindi natin alam," he said in an ANC interview.
He added: "Parang hindi nga ito normal in terms of the normal routine of the party, but there are some developments which might also help the campaign of our standard-bearer Gibo Teodoro. He is still the standard-bearer of the party."
He said that under the Lakas-KAMPI-CMD constitution and by-laws, Teodoro could be replaced by either of the party's vice-chairmen, vice-presidential bet Edu Manzano and re-electionist Misamis Oriental Governor Oscar Moreno.
He added that Dominguez could also be replaced by the Lakas-KAMPI-CMD executive vice-president, deputy House Speaker Pablo Garcia of Cebu.
"We might also call for a special national executive committee meeting para makagpag-decide kami tungkol sa top officials of our party," he said.
Roquero said some Lakas-KAMPI-CMD members continue to air their support for Teodoro despite his decision to resign as the party's chairman.
"We will stay together as a party. As [Teodoro] said, Lakas-Kampi is not an ordinary party. We have 12,891 local and national candidates running for various positions and these have to be attended to by the national chairman. We need somebody who will attend to this," he said.
Malacañang surprised, too
Malacañang was also surprised by the resignations of Teodoro and Dominguez from their party posts.
In a press briefing, Presidential spokesman Ricardo Saludo said he wasn't aware that there were "a lot happening" in the Lakas-KAMPI-CMD.
Saludo said it was up to the party administration to deal with the resignations.
He underscored that the party remains a powerful organization with a big reach and clout.
Saludo said he was unaware whether President Arroyo has been informed about the developments.
Presumably, he said the Lakas-KAMPI-officers have informed the chief executive about the resignations of Teodoro and Dominguez.
Saludo said the these developments were a "matter of concern."
A reliable source said Teodoro quit without informing President Arroyo about his decision.
Defections trigger ruling party's woes
Meanwhile, Liberal Party's Erin Tañada said Teodoro's resignation as party chair "may lead to more defections from Lakas-KAMPI."
Tañada said the problems of the ruling party are partly because "personalities formerly identified with Lakas-KAMPI are aligning themselves with the presidential bet, business tycoon Sen. Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP).
Among the key political leaders who have left Lakas-KAMPI to support Villar are Bukidnon Gov. Jose 'Joe' Zubiri and former deputy National Security adviser. Luis 'Chavit' Singson, the local kingpin in Ilocos Sur, and influential congressmen in Cebu province.
Tañada said this development "bolsters our claim that Sen. Villar is the secret candidate of the administration."
In an interview on ANC's Top Story, UST political science Prof. Edmund Tayao said the reality on the ground is that while Teodoro is the official candidate of the ruling Lakas-KAMPI-CMD, many of the party's local leaders are supporting Villar.
Tayao said the problems faced by Lakas-KAMPI-CMD show "the weakness of our political parties."
Money the root of the problem?
Also speaking on ANC's Top Story, Lakas-KAMPI-CMD vice-chairman Oscar Moreno said this was not the first time for the party to experience defections and difficulties.
He recalled that after Joseph Estrada became president in 1998, the ranks of the Lakas-CMD dwindled to only around 30 members as many opted to support the administration.
However, when Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo deposed Estrada and became president in 2001, the party's ranks swelled again just as it did during the Ramos administration.
Moreno lamented that at the root of the problem of Lakas-KAMPI-CMD is money, with many local leaders leaving Teodoro simply because of lack of financial support. He said Teodoro's decision to quit as party chair means he cannot cope with the demands of the party's local bets.
Moreno said this was a good opportunity for Teodoro to "be his own man" and be truly independent from power brokers. If Teodoro wins the presidency, he said this means that people really like him.
The governor of Misamis Oriental said it was bad to have a party that is "measured by money." He said this fosters bad leadership, where leaders simply want to recoup their investments after they win an election.
Moreno said he will still support Teodoro despite the defections. "Ill stick it out with Gibo," he said.
He said Teodoro is the most prepared among all the presidential candidates. He also believes that it is only Teodoro who can address the problems of the Philippine bureaucracy, especially with regard to its "ethical standards." -- with reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News; ANC