WikiLeaks cable: Gibo saw Arroyo as a liability

by Jojo Malig,

Posted at Sep 09 2011 08:14 PM | Updated as of Sep 11 2011 05:38 AM


MANILA, Philippines - Former presidential candidate Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro saw then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a liability in his campaign, a confidential cable released by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said.

Cable 10MANILA60, written and sent January 13, 2010 to the State Department purportedly by US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, said Teodoro welcomed Arroyo's non-involvement in his campaign.

"Teodoro voiced relief that Arroyo was not significantly involved in his efforts, as he recognized her unpopularity with most voters made her a liability," the memo said.

"Teodoro said President Arroyo had a limited role in his campaign. She was more focused on her own run for the House of Representatives, although she occasionally spoke with his campaign advisors," it added.

"Teodoro also assessed that Philippine Secretary of National Defense Norberto Gonzales was doing a poor job of running the Department of National Defense, which Teodoro himself formerly headed," it said.

The cable said Kenney had a one-on-one meeting with Teodoro last January 11, 2010 that served as her farewell breakfast before being transferred to another post.

It revealed the former defense secretary's frustrations in the presidential race.

Lack of enthusiasm

"Teodoro betrayed a clear lack of enthusiasm for campaigning, noting time demands, difficult discussions with local officials, and a dearth of substance," it said. 

"He also was increasingly frustrated with local government officials' efforts to seek quid pro quo exchanges for their political support. Some of these officials had complained to the presidential Palace that Teodoro had been unresponsive to their requests, he noted," the cable added.

In comparison to then-candidate Benigno Aquino III whom Kenney described as "diffident," the US envoy had a glowing assessment of Teodoro.

"Teodoro has many positive attributes, including an impressive intellect, an excellent grasp of policy and strong public speaking skills," she said.

However, Kenney added that Teodoro "clearly lacks natural talent for and interest in the glad-handing and backroom dealing that so often characterize politics."

She noted that "Teodoro's relatively detached approach to his campaign might reflect an understanding that he is a currently a longshot candidate with no easy path to victory."

The cable said Teodoro, although flattered by the attention that voters give him in his road campaign, "did not particularly enjoy the process."

It added that Teodoro was also spending most of his time trying to appeal either to the mass of voters in the lower socio-economic class or to the country's wealthiest, who might provide financing for his campaign.

The cable quoted Teodoro as saying that "most major campaign financiers -- including his uncle, Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco -- were waiting until later in the campaign to assess which candidates to back."

Seventy-six of the thousands of US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks mentioned Teodoro.

In comparison, the man who will later become Philippine president, Benigno Aquino, is mentioned in 33 cables.