Gibo camp reaches out to LP, Erap
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - House Speaker Prospero Nograles believes the defeat of Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential bet Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro in the May 10 polls is inevitable.
In an official statement, Nograles, a member of the ruling party's National Advisory Board, warned Teodoro that although "many members of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD may still appear to be toeing the line" due to their "love" for the party and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, many of them "will not support Teodoro in the final days of the campaign."
The most recent key administration ally to abandon Teodoro is Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, who confirmed on Wednesday that he would support his Ateneo de Manila University classmate Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III of the Liberal Party. (Click here for story.)
Nograles earlier said he was considering leaving Lakas-Kampi-CMD due to poor party leadership.
On Thursday, Nograles criticized Teodoro's "style of politics" as "divisive, which is why many of our members are defecting."
"He will be surprised to realize on May 10 that many of those who are staying behind for the sake of the party that are running for elective posts will also junk him in their sample ballots," Nograles said.
The Speaker also said Teodoro had no right to say Lakas-Kampi members who have defected to other parties were "trapos," (rags) a derisive term to describe Filipino politicians.
Nograles said these "trapos" had worked hard to build the party, which Teodoro, a party "hitch hiker," is now using to "advance his political ambition."
'Who is a trapo?'
"Who is trapo? Was he not an NPC (Nationalist People's Coalition) before he became Lakas? I have been a Lakas since I joined politics and I'm still Lakas up to now. So who's the real trapo?" Nograles said.
He said many in the administration party don't want to leave Lakas-Kampi, but they don't want to back Teodoro.
"We don't want to abandon Lakas but we don't want Gibo. We will save Lakas but not Gibo. Mabibigo si Gibo and we know that. Those who are saying otherwise should enjoy their illusion while it last," Nograles said.
He said Lakas-Kampi would regroup after the election and forge new alliances.
"The party will survive but I expect that Gibo shall have learned the lesson that you can win elections by burning bridges that he did not even build. We will regroup after May 10 and I'm confident that even those who have left the party will come back to the fold," he said.
Gibo camp in talks with LP, PMP
Meanwhile, in another sign of trouble in the ruling party, ABS-CBN sources said Teodoro's camp was in talks with the camps of both Aquino and former President Joseph Estrada for still unclear reasons.
The sources said Teodoro allegedly now realizes he is not getting the full support of President Arroyo. (Read: Gibo quit to protest lack of support from GMA).
When asked to comment on this, Lakas-Kampi-CMD President Francis Manglapus, a close ally of Teodoro, said it should be no surprise if their standard-bearer is talking to Estrada and Aquino.
Manglapus said Teodoro has always maintained close ties with Estrada, while Aquino is Teodoro's cousin.
But Manglapus stressed that Teodoro is not withdrawing from the presidential race.
Sarangani Gov. Miguel Dominguez confirmed that Malacañang still has not given enough support for Teodoro, unlike the support President Arroyo is giving to Lakas-Kampi bets for the House of Representatives.
Dominguez said many in the party are wondering why there is so much support being given to congressmen but not enough for its principal bets.
Lakas-Kampi not disintegrating
Lakas-Kampi-CMD officials denied the party was disintegrating with the series of high-profile defections of its members to either the LP or the Nacionalista Party.
Ray Roquero, deputy secretary-general of Lakas-Kampi-CMD, said only a few of its members have defected to rival parties.
"We are not disintegrating. Ilan lang naman yung umalis, mabibilang mo sa isang kamay. Black propaganda lang yan ng oposisyon kaya pinalalabas na marami umaalis sa amin," he said.
One of the big political families reported to be thinking of jumping ship is the Teves clan in Negros Oriental.
Interviewed at the Money Market Association of the Philippines general membership meeting on Thursday, Finance Secretary Teves refused to confirm or deny whether his nephew Rep. Henry Teves of Negros Oriental will also leave Lakas-Kampi.
Teves said he does not know what his nephew's plans are. If Rep. Teves does leave the ruling party, Sec. Teves said this would be his own decision.
On the move of Arroyo's economic adviser Joey Salceda to leave Lakas for the LP, Teves said he and Salceda are part of President Arroyo's economic team and do not discuss politics.
JDV wants merger dissolved
Meanwhile, Lakas-CMD founder and former House Speaker Jose de Venecia said he is not surprised at what's happening to the ruling party.
He said it would be best for the merged Lakas-Kampi party to just dissolve, and the original Lakas-CMD be returned to its original founders.
De Venecia was with former President Fidel V. Ramos on Thursday at a dinner meeting with a Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) members from Germany.
De Venecia has a pending petition with the Supreme Court seeking to nullify the merger of Lakas-CMD and President Arroyo's Kampi.
Ramos said he has not talked with Nograles about his concerns, although he said he has received feelers from Nograles that they talk.
"There was an effort to pass the information of what he was going to do to me. But that was all," Ramos said.
Like De Venecia, Ramos has refused to recognize the merged ruling party, but has remained a leader of the Lakas-CMD, the party he founded with De Venecia in 1991.
'Lakas-Kampi can still win'
Edcel Lagman, senior adviser of Lakas-Kampi, said Nograles is entitled to his opinion. Despite Teodoro's poor survey ratings with only a few weeks left before election day, he said their standard-bearer can still win.
Ray Roquero, deputy secretary-general of Lakas-Kampi, said they feel bad about what Nograles has said, but they still believe the party is strong and can deliver the votes to make him win on May 10.
"Well, coming from a previous president of the party, talagang mabigat yung sinabi ni Speaker Nograles, but we do believe that with the continued support of our loyal governors, congressmen, municipal and city mayors, I think we will come out victorious in this election," Roquero said.
Lakas-Kampi is fielding 170 bets for Congress, 70 of whom are incumbents. It also has 64 bets for governor, of whom 43 are incumbents.
But for political analyst Ramon Casiple, the defections are bad for the ruling party especially since there is only less than a month left before election day.
Casiple said the Lakas-Kampi will find it hard to recover from the loss of key allies.
Gibo camp blames old leaders for mess
Meanwhile, in a statement, Manglapus said Nograles now "seems to be lost and confused" and needs "some guidance and direction."
"First, he said he was bolting the party. Then he changes his mind. I suggest he first makes sure that another party would like to have him. At least the other political butterfly Gov. Zubiri made overtures first to the LP and when there was some apprehension from the ranks of the LP moved over to the NP," Manglapus said.
He was referring to Bukidnon Gov. Jose "Joe" Zubiri, who recently quit Lakas-Kampi to support Nacionalista Party presidential bet Sen. Manny Villar. (Click story here.)
Manglapus said that if it is true Lakas-Kampi is collapsing, "then the blame should be on others that have held the leadership of the party for so long. Obviously it was their fault that a firm foundation was not established."
Nograles was vice-chairman of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD before new party leaders were named after Teodoro became its presidential bet for the May 10 polls.
Manglapus said Teodoro's move to quit as Lakas-Kampi-CMD chair is "producing positive results as can be seen from the momentum that his campaign is generating and the competent leadership that the new Chairperson is displaying." (Click here for story.)
The new party chairperson is Rep. Amelita Villarosa.
"If Speaker Nograles does decide to make good on his plan to spend time putting together a rebel group within the party, we wish it is not at the expense of devoting less time on is local campaign, least he be accused of abandoning it 'in the middle of the ocean filled with sharks'," Manglapus said.
He added that Teodoro's candidacy is based on a "solid platform of government anchored on the core principals of the party, the values of the Centrist Humanist Christian-Muslim Democratic thinking."
"He started his quest for the presidency stating that he would run a positive campaign based on platforms and programs, this is the way he will continue and this is how he will end," Manglapus said.
"This type of politics is a fresh and welcome development to the political maturity of the party and the country as a whole. It is not the patronage type of politics, usually based on money and political opportunism that many of our leaders have been used to. And this is why there is a groundswell of support from the non traditional sources, common citizens and volunteers from all walks of life from all around the country that have been energized by Teodoro's quest," he added. -- reports from Willard Cheng, Ricky Carandang, Jenny Reyes, Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News