MANILA, Philippines - Despite reports that she is backing another candidate, President Arroyo on Monday reiterated that she will not campaign for Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro for the 2010 presidential election.
Palace Deputy Spokesman Gary Olivar made this clear when he was asked if the President will now campaign for Teodoro if only to dispel speculations she or her family is backing a different candidate, specifically Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Sen. Manny Villar.
“[The] President has always said governance is top priority, campaigning comes second. You can always have many campaigners but you can only have one president," he told reporters.
Olivar said there is no need for the President to reassure Teodoro of her support, noting that the former defense chief has not expressed doubts on the support of the President.
He added that the President is helping Teodoro by immediately appointing Deputy Speaker Amelita Villarosa as the new chairman of the Lakas-Kampi CMD after he stepped down from the post.
The President's spokesman also criticized Villar and Liberal Party presidential candidate Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III for using the president to malign each other.
"Unfortunately, both opposition parties still haven’t gotten away from the understandable temptation of running a campaign against the incumbent instead of their own...It is so easy to hurl criticisms against incumbent. Maybe opponents can explain if they are using Gibo as proxy so they can attack her instead of running own campaign," he said.
Former Social Welfare Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman, however, said the recent movements of close friends of the President to the Nacionalista Party indicates that there is more to the allegation that meets the eye.
"The people can see that close friends and leaders of Lakas are siding with Villar. Even Teodoro's resignation is an indication that he sees he is no longer the one being supported," he said.
Soliman said President Arroyo knows that the next administration should be friendly to her to ensure her own political survival. She said the incumbent President could perpetuate herself in power by ensuring the failure of elections or ensure that the new administration would look favorably upon her as she faces a number of graft cases when she steps down on June 30.
The former Cabinet official said the interests of the First Couple cannot be divorced from each other, noting that it was improbable that Malacañang would support two candidates.
“Para sa akin, yung mag-asawa laging nag-uusap...Imposible na magkahiwalay pa stratehiya dahil kapakanan at kinabukasan nila ito," she said.
She added: "They're just backing one, not two candidates. Sa akin, tingin ko sinasabi nila that [Teodoro's candidacy kailangan yun para may panglito o panligaw.”
For her part, Cebu 6th District Rep. Nerisa Soon Ruiz denied that First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo had a hand in her transferring to Villar's camp.
"My decision to support Sen. Villar was made after a thorough consultation with my allies and leaders. My group believed that Sen. Villar is the presidential bet who can best serve the needs of Mandauehanons. As a local bet who isrunning for a mayoralty post my primordial concern is what is best for my constituents. Hence, the First Gentleman has nothing to do with this development. As a famous line says, 'My loyalty to my party ends when the interest of my people begins,'" Ruiz said.
Over the weekend, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia hinted that there is a plot to undermine her family’s support for Teodoro.
Garcia, seen as key to President Arroyo’s 1 million vote winning margin in the 2004 polls, reiterated her family’s support for Teodoro. Asked if her brother, GSIS president and known Arroyo ally Winston Garcia, also supports Teodoro, Garcia said she does not speak for her brother who has his own position.
Lim tells Gibo: Sever ties with GMA
Suspected coup plotter now senatorial candidate Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim on Monday advised Teodoro to sever ties with President Arroyo, who he said hasn’t been true to the presidential aspirant.
“If Gibo wants to be treated as a candidate that is neither a ‘dummy candidate’ nor someone shackled to the administration, he should immediately declare independence and run on his accord," he said in a statement.
In his message, Lim said Teodoro gains nothing by remaining loyal to a President who is secretly backing another candidate. He said he respects and admires Teodoro as a worthy presidential contender who should continue on his quest for the presidency.
"The people are not asking him to quit from the presidential race. He has all the right and qualifications to run. All we are asking is for him to quit Gloria; like what Gloria already did to him and like what the Filipino people long ago did to her nine-year misrule,” he said.
Lim is running as a independent in the senatorial race although he had been adopted by the group of presidential aspirants Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of the Liberal Party and former President Joseph Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.
He is detained at the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame for involvement in the November 2007 siege of the Manila Peninsula Hotel where he withdrew support from President Arroyo whom he called a “bogus president.”
Lim - along with fellow senatorial candidate Col. Ariel Querubin who is running under Villar’s ticket - also figured in the alleged plan to overthrow the Arroyo government in February 2007.