MANILA - Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno announced on Friday that he will no longer seek the vice-presidency in the May 2010 elections.
In a forum on disaster management, the administration party's supposed vice-presidential bet said he would prefer to stay in the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and help the police and local officials respond to urgent public problems such as calamities.
"I am withdrawing my bid to be the vice-president of the Republic of the Philippines in order to remain with the people I've worked with for the decades past, in order to remain with the people in the public service who have shown me by their example what it means to be a public servant," Puno said.
"There will be no more talk about any candidacies of any sort. I will dedicate myself, in the remaining months of the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to serving our people in the way that I know best--as a member of the DILG where I began many years ago and where I hope to see the height and the zenith of my career," he added.
Puno was expected to be the running mate of administration Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential candidate, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, but he has fared poorly in all surveys.
'Teodoro will choose running mate'
Lakas-Kampi-CMD secretary-general Gabriel Claudio told Tony Velasquez on ANC's On The Scene on Friday that the party's standard-bearer will now have a "considerable say" on who his running mate will be following Puno's withdrawal.
He said the party will likely be giving the prerogative of choosing its vice-presidential candidate to Teodoro. The Lakas-Kampi-CMD is scheduled to hold its party convention on November 12 in Cebu.
"Owing to this announcement, the party will have to consider other possibilities," Claudio added, but declined to say who. "Some names are being considered."
Teodoro, meanwhile, lamented Puno's withdrawal from the vice-presidential race, saying they would have formed a good tandem.
He said it will now be up to the Lakas-Kampi-CM to decide who his running mate will be.
Puno's withdrawal opens the door for other more popular candidates such as Vice-President Noli de Castro, who has kept mum about his political plans, or Loren Legarda, who is expected to make an announcement about her vice-presidential bid on Friday.
Legarda has said she will stay with the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), but has not closed the door to alliances with presidential candidates of other political parties.
Vilma Santos as VP?
Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos has also been suggested as a possible running mate for Teodoro, but Santos has rejected the proposal, saying she prefers to run for another term as governor.
On Friday, Claudio smiled when asked if the Lakas-Kampi-CMD is courting Santos to be Teodoro's running mate.
"I would say may edge an incumbent official or somebody who has, at least, served in government, nang sa ganon may karanasan, track record ng service to the public," he said in an ambush interview.
Claudio said the ruling party's tandem will be known during the November 12 national convention.
Lakas-Kampi-CMD President Eduardo Ermita said he is not at liberty to disclose who are being considered as the party's vice-presidential candidate.
On the Lakas-Kampi-CMD senatorial slate, Claudio said many of them will be from the Arroyo Cabinet, although not all 12 slots will come from the Cabinet.
He said the party will put a premium on quality and preparedness to support the standard-bearer of the party. -- with reports from Niña Corpuz, Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; ANC