MANILA, Philippines - Are Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales Jr. and former defense chief Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro forming a new opposition group against President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III?
Gonzales opened up the possibility on Wednesday during his speech at the retirement ceremony for Armed Forces vice-chief Lt. Gen. Rodrigo Maclang.
In his speech, Gonzales said although he was forced to stay neutral during the elections, he and his family were actually rooting for Teodoro, the ruling Lakas-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino-Christian Muslim Democrats' bet.
"(I) am expressing something that I have kept secret during the entire election campaign," Gonzales said. "Gilbert, I want to express to you that by unanimous decision of all my children, we are, you are our president."
Gonzales, who earlier drew flak from the Philippine National Police hierarchy for claiming that some police officials were involved in a plan to rig the polls, claimed in his speech that Teodoro was the only candidate "who spoke of visions, policies and change."
The outgoing national security adviser also fired a warning shot at President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.
Gonzales said he will invite Teodoro and Maclang to join a new opposition movement to challenge the new administration.
"Baka naman magawa pa rin nating maglingkod sa taong bayan. Iimbitahin din siguro kita sumali sa akin saka si Gilbert, siguro tayo naman ang oposisyon sa darating na mga araw," he told Maclang.
Praising the troops
Teodoro, who attended the ceremonies for Maclang, was all smiles with the remarks of Gonzales. He is an adopted member of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1976 which include Maclang as a regular member.
Teodoro served as defense secretary for about two years before resigning late last year to pursue his ambition for the presidency. A pilot himself, Teodoro holds the rank of colonel in the Air Force’s reserve corps.
Gonzales paid tribute to the officers and men of the Armed Forces, especially Maclang for heading the AFP’s Task Force Honest, Orderly and Peaceful Elections, to protect the past elections. "I have to yet to hear a single complaint about the behavior and performance of our Armed Forces during the last elections," he said.
Gonzales said many politicians are talking about how expensive it is to run in an election without making an effort to raise the consciousness of the people in electing trustworthy leaders.
"Our political leaders are blaming our people on the kind of politics we have today. I think they are wrong," he said.
"Part of political leadership is making sure that they exert all efforts to keep raising the quality in consciousness of our people in the realm of politics. If our countrymen have turned that way, that they are selling their votes, that is not the fault of our countrymen. That is the fault of our leaders."