MANILA-(4th UPDATE)-Former Optical Media Board (OMB) chairman and TV game show host Edu Manzano is Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro's running mate. (Read: Profile of Edu Manzano)
Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno made the surprise announcement at a press conference in Shangri-La Makati on Friday.
"The person who has accepted the challenge of standing beside Secretary Teodoro in the quest to become the next president of the Republic of the Philippines and the next vice-president of the Republic of the Philippines, no other than former OMB chairman Edu Manzano," Puno said.
Manzano's decision to accept the offer to be Teodoro's running mate was a surprise since there were reports that he was supposed to join the Liberal Party's senatorial ticket in 2010.
He was supposed to take his oath as LP member last Thursday, but this was cancelled. The LP is fielding Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III for president and Senator Mar Roxas for vice-president.
Manzano said Puno, who has been his mentor since he entered politics, played a big role in convincing him to run for vice-president under the Lakas-Kampi-CMD banner.
He added that even before starting talks with Teodoro, he already knew that the outgoing defense chief "possesses all the qualities that are necessary to move this country forward."
"And I would like to hitch my wagon with that of the good secretary and be part of his team that would push the Filipinos' future," Manzano said.
Puno said he suggested Manzano to Teodoro, citing the TV host's capability as a public servant.
'Well-funded campaign made me decide'
In a separate interview with TV Patrol World, Manzano admitted that the administration coalition's party machinery and campaign war chest played a big factor in his decision to run under Lakas-Kampi CMD.
"[Lakas-Kampi CMD] has a presidential candidate that they have to take care of. Lakas said they will take care of campaign expenses. In fact, Ronnie Puno personally guaranteed that and he is a friend of longstanding. I think the Liberal Party made it very, very clear from the beginning that they would run a campaign on a shoestring budget. They even have those 'piso-piso' contributions," he told TV Patrol anchor Karen Davila.
Manzano said he did not want a repeat of his "traumatic" experience in 2001 when he ran for mayor of Makati. The TV host said he was forced to sell his house after running out of money for the campaign.
"What happened to me then was - it was near election time and no money was coming in. Since I was the head of the party, if I left our whole slate would fall. So I had no choice but to sell my house. That is why I told Secretary Puno: 'You know that I had a traumatic experience in 2001'. But the Secretary took it upon himself to say: 'I will guarantee personally that we will take care of the campaign,'" he said.
Supports Lakas-Kampi's platform
Teodoro said that aside from being a friend and a school mate at the De La Salle University, he believes Manzano's influence can help him push the Lakas-Kampi-CMD's platform of government, which includes sustainable economic growth and making the Philippines one of Asia's progressive countries again.
"Kailangan na may isang tao na katambalan ko na hihikayat sa taumbayan na kailangang bumangon tayo. Dapat unahan natin ang ating mga kapitbahay. Dapat manguna tayo (I need a partner who will convince people that we need to rise again. That we should surpass our [Asian] neighbors. That we should lead [again])," he said.
He added that one of the most important abilities that Manzano possesses is his intelligence.
"Pareho kaming baguhan sa national politics. Pareho ho kaming walang bitbit na kargo kundi ang utak namin (We are both new to national politics. Both of us carrying nothing else but our brains)," Teodoro added.
Mar, Loren welcome Edu's entry
Politicians from other political parties on Friday welcomed the entry of actor-TV host Edu Manzano in the May 2010 elections.
His opponent in the Liberal Party, Senator Mar Roxas, wished Manzano well.
"Best of luck to Edu in 2010. Welcome to national politics. He is a worthy opponent," Roxas said.
"Tiwala tayo na ang mga Pilipino ay pipili ng karapat-dapat at may mahusay na programa para sa tunay na pagbabago (I trust that Filipinos will choose their candidates based on a strong platform for real change)," added Roxas.
Roxas leads the vice-presidential surveys, according to the latest one conducted by the independent polling outfit, Social Weather Stations (SWS). (Read: Mar, Noli, Loren are top VP choices)
Roxas pointed out that Lakas-Kampi-CMD had sought but failed to get Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto, Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla, and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, among others, to be Teodoro's running mate.
"The administration tried everything to get Vilma as Gibo's running-mate, but he now has to settle for Edu," Roxas said.
Loren not surprised
Senator Loren Legarda, the vice-presidential candidate of the Nationalist People's Coalition, told ANC on Friday she was not surprised to learn that Manzano has accepted the ruling coalition's offer to run for vice president next year.
Legarda said Manzano mentioned to her that he was being wooed by the Lakas-Kampi-CMD party.
She said she even encouraged the former Optical Media Board chairman to accept the offer.
Legarda added she will soon announce which presidential bet she will support.
Meanwhile, Manzano's ex-wife, Gov. Vilma Santos, said she supports Manzano's decision to run as vice president.
For his part, Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar also welcomed the entry of Manzano in the race, saying it will make the vice-presidential race more exciting.
Villar has reportedly reached an agreement with Legarda to be his running mate.
Villar refused to disclose who his vice-presidential bet will be, but hinted that the politician is an advocate of climate change, which is Legarda's popular advocacy.