MANILA - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be resigning as national chair of the ruling party, Lakas-Kampi-CMD, and will be turning over the party leadership to its standard-bearer Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., Malacañang announced on Saturday.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said Mrs. Arroyo has "stated her desire" to turn over the party leadership to Teodoro. He said the President "wanted to pass the torch to the younger generation."
Teodoro is set to resign from the Department of National Defense (DND) next week before the Lakas-Kampi-CMD national convention on November 19 in Manila. Candidates will be filing their certificate of candidacy from November 20 to midnight of December 1.
President Arroyo's frequent visits to her home province of Pampanga in recent months have fueled speculations that she may run for a seat in Congress in next year's polls in order to become Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Teodoro has vowed to immediately push for charter change in case he wins the presidency. This could pave the way for a parliamentary system of government and a shot at being Prime Minister for Mrs. Arroyo.
When she leaves office on June 30, 2010, Mrs. Arroyo would have been in power for 9 and a half years, the second longest presidential reign in Philippine history after the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos was in power for 20 years, from 1965 to 1986.
Not quitting Lakas-Kampi
Secretary Gabby Claudio, Mrs. Arroyo's adviser on political affairs, meanwhile, clarified that Mrs. Arroyo is not resigning from the ruling coalition party.
"President Arroyo is not quitting the administration party. She is merely turning over its chairmanship to Secretary Gibo Teodoro in keeping with the party tradition," he said.
"Lakas-Kampi will remain President Arroyo's party. She has been the moving spirit behind the merger of the Lakas-CMD and Kampi," Claudio, the ruling party's secretary-general, said in a statement.
He added that Mrs. Arroyo will maintain her influence over Lakas-Kampi members even after her term. He said the President continues to rally members of the party behind Teodoro's presidential bid
Teodoro is still trailing frontrunners Senator Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III of the Liberal Party and Senator Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party in the presidential surveys. He still does not have a running mate.
The Commission on Elections last September upheld the merger between the Lakas-CMD, the party founded by former President Fidel Ramos and former House Speaker Jose de Venecia, and the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi), the party which Mrs. Arroyo established for her vice-presidential run in 1998.
De Venecia had questioned the validity of the merger, claiming it violated the party rules.
Teodoro, a former three-term representative of Tarlac, joined the ruling party last July 24 after leaving the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), the party of his uncle, businessman Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco, Jr. -- with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News