Garcias of Cebu are behind me, he says
MANILA, Philippines - The administration's official candidate for president Gilberto 'Gibo' Teodoro on Maundy Thursday denied a report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that he had been told by Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia about First Gentleman Jose Miguel 'Mike' Arroyo's alleged move to abandon him in favor of Sen. Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP).
"I deny the report that Gov. Gwen Garcia allegedly told me that the First Gentleman called up members of her family to withdraw their support to me," Teodoro said in a statement.
Teodoro claimed that the Garcias of Cebu are still behind him, contrary to a report in the Inquirer.
"The support of the Garcia family and of One Cebu has always been solid and unconditional, it has never wavered," the former defense chief said. (Read: Cebu Gov claims 'One Cebu' still for Gibo)
"I have been going to Cebu to attend One Cebu rallies to show our unflinching support for each other," he added.
Teodoro also said that "Gov. Garcia never gave an interview except to reaffirm One Cebu's support for me."
He also denied rumors he was withdrawing from the race, and appealed "to all not to believe in the divisive intrigues being spread around and instead focus on the serious issues affecting the future of our country."
"I am not withdrawing. Elections generate rumors, that is expected. I ask that we not listen to them and just focus on the task ahead," he said.
Quoting an unidentified Lakas official, the Inquirer reported on Thursday that Teodoro "uncovered the shift of support when members of the Garcia family of Cebu decided to jump ship and support Villar."
The Inquirer said Teodoro allegedly went to Cebu and confronted Gov. Garcia when the support of the Garcias for Villar became public.
The Inquirer earlier reported that among the members of the Garcia family, only Gov. Gwen has remained in the Teodoro camp.
Rep. Pablo Garcia and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) President Winston Garcia are allegedly supporting Villar.
The Inquirer report said Teodoro 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 Inquirer report added: “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.”
The Inquirer said in its report that "a second source confirmed that Teodoro’s resignation [as Lakas chairman] was prompted by the Arroyos’ support for Villar."
Gibo says Palace, Puno still with him
Malacañang has repeatedly denied that President Arroyo is supporting Villar. The Villar camp has also belied the allegation.
Following his move to leave the Lakas-Kampi last Tuesday as its chairman, Teodoro reiterated that he can now focus on his campaign.
"Additionally now that I can concentrate on my campaign, I expect to hit the campaign with extra vigor and energy," he said.
Teodoro also denied that Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno has abandoned him, considering that he has not been seen helping in the Lakas-Kampi campaign.
"Sec. Puno continues to help in my campaign," he said.
According to ABS-CBN News' sources, the reason why Teodoro left as party chair was because of lack of support from President Arroyo. (Read: Gibo quit to protest GMA's lack of support)
Teodoro continues to lag behind in the presidential surveys and is still at 4th place behind Sen. Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III, Sen. Manny Villar, and former President Joseph Estrada. (Read: Aquino opens up lead versus Villar--SWS)
He got only 6% support in the latest March 19-22 Businessworld/Social Weather Stations survey, only a slight gain from his 4% support in the December 5-10, 2009 SWS survey.
However, he is banking on the Lakas-Kampi local machinery to make him win in the presidential race. (Read: Analyst: May 10 polls a 4-cornered race) -- report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News