MANILA - Bukidnon Rep. Teofisto "TG" Guingona III is leaving Senator Manuel Villar's senatorial team and the Nacionalista Party (NP).
Guingona told reporters Tuesday that he has resigned from the party. He also denied reports he would be joining the Liberal Party (LP), which is fielding Senators Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino and Manuel 'Mar' Roxas in May 2010.
"I'm not joining LP," he said in an ambush interview at the sidelines of the House plenary session.
Guingona refused to elaborate. He said he will speak at a scheduled Wednesday press conference at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.
Rumors have been rife the last two weeks that the son of former Vice President Teofisto 'Tito' Guingona will abandon Villar to support the presidential bid of the LP's standard-bearer, Noynoy Aquino.
The former vice president was close to the late President Corazon Aquino. He served as Mrs. Aquino's Commission on Audit (COA) chief and became a senator under Mrs. Aquino's senatorial ticket in 1987.
Rep. Guingona earned the slot in the NP senatorial ticket long before Noynoy Aquino decided to run for the presidency.
It is unclear if Guingona will join a political party or run as an independent.
On Tuesday, a non-government organization Kaya Natin (KN) announced that it will nominate Guingona to be included in LP's senatorial slate. A political party may adopt an independent candidate.
The NP and LP are the country's two oldest political parties. Both parties are positioned against the administration even if they have coalesced with the administration in the House of Representatives.
'Not a loss'
NP spokesman Laguna Rep. Justin Chipeco said Guingona's move will not hurt NP.
"It doesn't affect us. It's not a loss. It's not a game. At the end of the day, he is his own man....he is old enough to decide for himself," Chipeco said.
Chipeco said he only learned of Guingona's decision on Tuesday.
"He told me about it--just now. He's leaving the party. He has his own political plans. Desisyon naman nya yun. ‘Di mo naman pwedeng pilitin ang tao ‘pag ayaw. I don't take it personally," he said.
Although Noynoy Aquino may be getting the attention recently, Chipeco said NP is not discouraged.
"One time you'll be down. Another time you'll be up. What's important [is] on the day of the elections, you'll get the vote. In politics it's a whirlwind," he said.
"Good luck to him. He's a good friend of mine. I respect his position. Whatever his plans are, if he thinks he can win with another party, that is his position," he added.
Chipeco said the NP is ahead in forming its senatorial slate. "I think significantly ang party has, at this time, the most number of senatoriables," he said.
However, the NP has yet to choose Villar's running mate. "Madami nag-a-apply at mahirap mamili. We have to consider also political affiliations and coalitions," he said.