MANILA, Philippines -- Deputy Speaker Amelita Villarosa has been named acting chairwoman of the ruling Lakas-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-KAMPI-CMD) after the party's standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro quit his post on Tuesday.
In an interview with Ces Drilon on ANC's Rundown, Prospero Pichay, Lakas-KAMPI-CMD vice-president for membership and recruitment, said Villarosa was selected during a meeting on Wednesday presided by President Arroyo, the party’s chair emeritus.
Pichay also said that Francis Xavier Manglapus was named party president replacing Sarangani Gov. Rene Miguel Dominguez, who tendered his resignation on Wednesday.
Deputy secretary-general Ray Roquero was selected as secretary-general, replacing Manglapus, who also quit on Wednesday to give the new party leaders a free hand in choosing who should take over.
“We wanted to fill in the vacuum because of the various administrative functions that have to be done by the chairman and the president, for example, the printing of the sample ballots,” said Pichay.
Pichay, meanwhile, said they felt that Teodoro had a valid reason for resigning as party chairman.
“Well, I think everybody understood him, and we thought his reason for resigning is very valid: that he wanted to concentrate on his campaign rather than be disturbed by a lot of administrative concerns,” said Pichay.
He claimed that despite Teodoro's resignation, the party is still united behind Teodoro.
"I believe the party is intact, and the members, they are committed to campaign for Gilbert Teodoro and stay in the party," said Pichay.
He belittled the defections that have hit Lakas-KAMPI-CMD, saying only Bukidnon Gov. Jose 'Joe' Zubiri and former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis 'Chavit' Singson have left the party in order to support Sen. Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party.
Caught by surprise
Roquero earlier admitted he was caught by surprise with 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 on Wednesday.
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."
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.