SPECIAL FEATURE: GIBO TEODORO WAGES LONELY BATTLE TO WIN MALACAÑANG
 

[PHOTO AT LEFT - An only child subjected to a strict Catholic upbringing by his late father, Teodoro (left) found comfort in the fraternal environment of the military. AP]

[PHOTO BELOW AT RIGHT - His previous position as defense secretary has become Gibo’s stepping stone to a higher ambition, as he sets his sights on being either an heir of his clan’s powerful oligarch or an emerging figure of a new generation. GMANews.TV]

MANILA, MAY 7, 2010 (GMA7TV NEWS SPECIAL FEATURE) CRISELDA YABES - Gilbert Teodoro found himself alone at the height of typhoon Ondoy.

No one was around when he got to his office at the Department of National Defense inside Camp Aguinaldo, after taking the MRT train and wading through the flood. The office of civil defense in the compound was just as empty; the officers running it were away – the chief was on leave, his deputy was out of town, and the third in rank could not leave his mother trapped in his home.

Since it was a Saturday, employees were not expected to be there, but the urgency of the situation called for a sense of action in the face of an extraordinary disaster. Gibo (as the public knows him by his diminutive name) was losing his temper. Something had to be done as heavy rains quickly submerged the city, especially so that the National Disaster Coordinating Council fell under his watch as Secretary of Defense.

Fortunately, an officer who was in his staff and lived inside camp had gone to check the office, running into his boss at the lobby. Immediately they set up maps and charts and made calls to all the major service commanders to mobilize their men and equipment, getting out choppers and rubber boats or any kind of water craft to make haste for a rescue and relief operation in Metro Manila.

In those early days, the public was quick to notice that Gibo’s presence was not immediate and decisive enough, that a leader given charge of disaster management may not have well calculated the impact of the situation. “We didn’t have that capability," said the officer who helped the secretary in those crucial hours. “We lacked equipment and training. Everybody was overwhelmed."

Just the same, he said, Teodoro stood ground and stayed up until the morning hours, continuing this cycle for days until the disaster ebbed. He got people to move with whatever resources were on hand, later calling in for help a former subordinate who was working for the United Nations on humanitarian aid. Although somewhat against protocol, they set up a quick mechanism for a response system in affected areas.

“He didn’t grab the headlines," said the officer. “He didn’t think it was right having photo ops when we were almost down. He didn’t want to be an opportunist for publicity."

Camaraderie with the military

If one were to draw a picture of Teodoro’s leadership style, it would be during his stint as defense secretary for two years and four months. Last November, barely two months after the Ondoy tragedy, he filed his candidacy for the presidency. He sought the endorsement of the ruling party of Lakas-Kampi-CMD – raising the thought of whether he understood the nation's political mood or that he might simply be a man in a hurry.

His defense portfolio was a test of his caliber, although it appeared to be too short a time for the enormity of what his job required, that of strengthening one of the country’s most important institutions. He had the ambitious Philippine Defense Reform Program (PDR) on his hands, passed on to him by a predecessor who was a lawyer like him and had poured all his efforts into crafting a roadmap that was to make doctrines whole and show the way to modernizing an army that was only half capable.

Teodoro had promised to continue the reforms laid out by former secretary Avelino Cruz, having first completed the arduous task of finalizing a highly technical management system that alone was five years in the making. The PDR brought forth all aspects of strategic planning, capability assessment, acquisition, resource management – a tool tailored after the American system. He wanted the program on board for all to follow, from commanders down to resource managers and to lower levels, a complex chart giving masters the power “to crack the whip," so to speak, according to Teodoro, to make sure that this would be “laid down in stone" before President Arroyo’s term ends in 2010.

He boasted of having his department to be the first to submit a budget to lawmakers in Congress, with whom the armed forces was in a tug-of-war over the intricacies of procurement and acquisition, especially when it involved expensive planes and ships. He said he was against being in a “perpetual reform mode" and that it was time to put all these into “line programs" to pave the way for the multi-year program of a huge budget forecast.

“The fact that we started a serious implementation (of the management system) was big enough," said his former senior military adviser, Rear Admiral Alexander Pama, who is now chief of the Naval Forces in Western Mindanao. “We were able to make the Armed Forces do it no matter how complicated it was."

But unlike his predecessor, who dug deep into the heart of the PDR and sold the idea with a fierce commitment from camp to camp, Teodoro had other passions that were less daunting: his love for airplanes and the convivial interaction with men in the barracks, as he ostensibly made regular visits for updates and morale checks.

This may not be so surprising: Teodoro is a licensed pilot. He was recruited into the reserve service of the Air Force and obtained the rank of colonel. He taught command staff courses for officers required to hold this diploma before leading a battalion in the field, the front-liners in the anti-insurgency campaign. Most of all, he was made an honorary member of the elite military academy’s Class of ’76, which was the ruling clique when he was defense secretary.

In what may have been a period of striking affinity, the military gave him a place under the sun. The officers who came to his range of exposure could have been the brothers he never had or the playmates he had wanted to have. An only child and raised to the strict Catholic upbringing of his late father, he found comfort in this environment and the camaraderie with the military.

“These guys become close to him," said one colonel. “He developed his barkada" or close comrades that were so common of a fraternal world like the military.

Teodoro became so comfortable with his military mates that in one of his sorties in Mindanao, he went with them to a bar and after having had a little too much to drink, got up on stage to start singing – just like one of the guys hanging out. Embarrassed, the local official hosting the group surreptitiously urged the others to go home, to make Teodoro leave as well before the scene got out of hand, one officer recounted.

Synergy with civilian sector

In terms of working style, a senior official in the general headquarters said Teodoro could “easily grasp a problem," and having said that meant acknowledging the ease with which they could deal with him as a civilian (or an outsider). The military has obviously not been comfortable with politicians – and Teodoro is one – putting both forces on a scale tipping from complicity to estrangement.

Teodoro’s presence (like that of Cruz’s) brought a welcome air of relief to the military. For once, someone was giving attention to the ultimate function of a defense establishment: that it could, under serious political will, form itself into a corporation style of management, a far-fetched dream of realizing a synergy between military and civilian sectors.

But he had more to do as defense secretary. Although Teodoro was well liked, one can’t tell if he had actually made an imprint in terms of policy changes. Many officers say he only followed through the reform program from Cruz and did not have much input on his own. His leadership bordered on the callow, and in essence he wasn’t seen as much of a trailblazer, just a really intelligent man who knows what to say at any given moment.

The events that unfurled in the thick of the typhoon tragedy marked the helpless state of a government unprepared to save the day; the equipment that were sorely needed were in fact the very basic of what the reforms constituted to carry out a transformation to a higher level – where it would go beyond internal security to more global concerns covering sustainable environment, climate change, terrorism and weapons of destruction.

As it were, Teodoro was fuming mad that radar equipment needed to measure the amount of rain which were supposed to have been acquired more than five years ago (if it were not because of alleged quarrels among congressmen, according to an officer who was with the defense reform office) could have spelled a big difference in disaster risk management. Instead they went scrambling for rubber boats from the Navy, after which a debate ensued over the type of boats to purchase in case something of this magnitude happens again – more rubber boats or those with rigid hulls or the amphibious recovery cargo vessels used by the Marines?

There was no doubt that Teodoro saw his tour of duty at the defense department as the most significant in his career, telling the GMA News & Public Affairs program Kandidato: “I poured everything I could in the team effort between the department and the armed forces." He cited a positive rating in performance surveys from a mere ‘insignificant’ to a moderate figure of +30.

He was open to new thinking of re-defining military successes in the field, from an order of battle of body counts to peace and development strategies. When a mid-level officer came to him with a plan for a “nation-building assessment system" giving more value to the outcome of civil-military operations rather than tactical combat, Teodoro told him, “Let’s do this when I become president."

The officer, who does not wish to be identified as of now, observes, “He has the conviction to do significant things." He added that the trend of transforming mindsets in the military “permeates all ranks," describing relationships with Teodoro as one of trust. “He does not micro-manage, he is the type of person who inspires you," the officer said.

Head says Gibo, heart says Noynoy

But while many in the military admire his sense of loyalty, his ethics, and his intelligence, there are also some who are less excited in joining the wave of awe for the forty-five-year old “cute guy with brains" who wants to take on the country’s top job.

Several military officers interviewed for this article observed that Teodoro has a tendency to crack under pressure without the help of a close circle, such as what happened during Ondoy. In terms of policy making, he was also known to rely on his military advisers in dealing with the undersecretaries who are senior to him in age, because he felt uncomfortable doing the task.

His previous position as defense secretary has become Gibo’s stepping stone to a higher ambition, as he sets his sights on being either an heir of his family’s powerful oligarch or an emerging figure of a new generation.

Teodoro has all ingredients to soar: his family’s wealth, Harvard law degree, his marriage to a cultured woman from an equally prominent family. In his career Teodoro has had it all laid out for him, thanks to the early stewardship of his uncle, the business tycoon and former Marcos crony Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. But their relations have since soured, an issue that he refuses to discuss in public.

One general said that for the coming election, “we may have our head on Gibo, but our heart on Noynoy," referring to Benigno Aquino III, who is leading the polls and who happens to be Teodoro’s cousin. Both are from formidable political clans in Tarlac province. Teodoro will have a lot of fighting to do, to the very last, he says, but the surveys showing him trailing in fourth place is an indication that being the ruling coalition’s choice has pulled him down.

Right now, one can’t say if he truly has the political acumen of making the right choices at the right time. What he may want to avoid is to find himself alone again in the thick of a fight and to learn from past lessons what perfect timing is all about. – YA/HS, GMANews.TV

ELECTIONS CAMPAIGN 2010

Gibo unites Ateneo, La Salle supporters SOPHIA REGINA M. DEDACE, GMANews.TV

They may be rivals in the academic and sports arenas, but in the political ring, a common cause unites them.

On Friday, supporters of administration bet Gilberto Teodoro Jr. from the Ateneo de Manila University and the De La Salle University showed their unity by publishing their manifesto of support on newspapers.

"In the May 10 elections, the Blue Eagles have sheathed their talons, while the Green Archers have put away their arrows back in the quivers — all in the name of 'principled politics' and the near Quixotic presidential run of Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard bearer Gibo Teodoro," said a statement from Teodoro's camp.

The manifesto was titled "Rivals coming together for the country," and had Ateneo and La Salle professors, employees, and students as signatories.

They said that Teodoro "possesses the qualities of competent and experienced leadership needed to address the complex issues and problems confronting a country ready for economic take-off."

"We laud his positive attitude in the current presidential campaign amidst the negativity and vindictiveness among the other candidates," they added, referring to the black propaganda and mudslinging that became prominent throughout the three-month campaign season.

The signatories further said that Teodoro is "the best candidate to lead our nation forward."

Teodoro is an alumnus of the DLSU, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Commerce, Major in Financial Institutions degree in 1984. Five years later, he finished law school at the University of the Philippines College of Law.

Teodoro also went to the Harvard Law School in the United States, where he finished his Master of Laws degree in 1997.

On the other hand, Teodoro's cousin and rival in the presidential race, Sen. Beningo Aquino III, is an Economics graduate at the Ateneo de Manila University.

The manifesto of support for Teodoro was published three days before the May 10 polls.

On Friday evening, Teodoro and his supporters are set to hold a grand meeting de avance at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Malate, Manila. - RJAB Jr., GMANews.TV

Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. strives to prove he is his own man ANDREO CALONZO, GMANews.TV 05/06/2010 | 07:44 PM

GILBERTO TEODORO, JR.

 Name: Gilberto Eduardo Cojuangco Teodoro Jr.

Nickname: Gibo

Date of Birth: June 14, 1964 (age 45)

Spouse: Monica Louise Prieto-Teodoro

Campaign Slogan: Galing at Talino (Competence and Intelligence)

Educational Background:

A. Elementary: Xavier School, 1977

B. High School: Xavier School, 1981

C. College: BS Commerce, Major in Financial Institutions, De La Salle University, 1984

D. Law School: Bachelor of Laws, University of the Philippines-Diliman, 1989

E. Graduate and Higher Level: Masters of Laws, Harvard Law School, 1997

Professional Experience:

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Suricon Resources Corp. (1995-1996)

Founder, Evercrest Golf and Country Club (1993)

Lawyer, Estelito Mendoza Law Office (1990-1997)

Government Service:

Secretary, Department of National Defense (2007-2009)

Representative, First District of Tarlac, House of Representatives (1998-2007)

Colonel, Philippine Air Force, Armed Forces of the Philippines Reserve Force

Board member, Tarlac, Sangguniang Panlalawigan (1980-1986)

President, Kabataang Barangay Central Luzon (1980-1985)

President, Kabataang Barangay Council, Tarlac (1980-1985)

Data compiled by GMANews.TV, GMA News Research

Administration party presidential bet Gilberto Teodoro Jr. was evidently exhausted when he arrived at around 9 p.m. in Mandaluyong City for a campaign rally.

He was clad in his trademark green polo shirt and white T-shirt tucked inside his denim pants. He wiped his face with a white face towel. He had been on-the-go the entire day, yet when he faced the crowd of about 10,000 people, Teodoro was all fired up.

“No celebrities. No paid crowds… I’ll place my bets on all of you here," Teodoro told the adoring crowd.

Even after the rally, Teodoro found time to bond with his wife, former commercial model and Tarlac Rep. Monica Prieto-Teodoro, and their only son Jaime Gilberto. Mother and son were at the back of the stage while the administration standard-bearer delivered his speech, cheering Teodoro with tambourines in hand.

Afterwards, Teodoro posed for pictures with supporters, many of them females. He even managed to reply with conviction to questions thrown his way by the press—a trait he obviously got from years of practicing law.

Since the start of the local campaigns, life has been this way for the 45-year old presidential aspirant: traveling to different parts of the country, interacting with local officials who are members of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD party, and wooing the residents in the hope that he can get their support in the May 10 polls.

Loyalty to ruling party

Teodoro seems to have the makings of the country’s next chief executive—youthful, intelligent, and with ample experience in both the executive and legislative branches of government. One of his rivals for the presidency, former President Joseph Estrada, even called him “the most qualified" candidate for the country’s top post. Yet, Teodoro continues to stay stuck in fourth place in various pre-election presidential preference surveys, registering only single digit ratings.

Critics attribute Teodoro’s stagnant survey ranking to his association with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who anointed him as Lakas-Kampi-CMD’s standard-bearer in 2009. Teodoro also owes his experience in the executive branch to Mrs. Arroyo: he was appointed in 2007 by the President as secretary of the Department of National Defense, a post he held after finishing his three terms as representative of Tarlac’s first district.

Throughout his campaign, however, Teodoro has repeatedly denied that he is Mrs. Arroyo’s “yes man." In one interview, he asserted that he is “nobody’s lapdog" to assure the public that he will act independently if elected president.

“Hindi ko na kailangang iharap ang sarili ko kanino man, sa ating mga kababayan kung ako ay magiging tuta lamang. Hindi ako tuta ng kahit na sino," Teodoro said.

Despite these statements, Teodoro has stood by Mrs. Arroyo and the administration party. He said Mrs. Arroyo is fully behind his candidacy, even though the President never attended any of his political rallies.

“Ako ay tumatakbo na hinirang ng Lakas-Kampi-CMD. I will stand and I will fall on that… Hindi ko naman kukunsintihin ang katiwalian, pero hindi ko naman gagawin ang ma-dramang paraan para lamang manalo," he said in one interview.

Teodoro’s assurance of unwavering allegiance to the administration party, however, seems to have done little to engender loyalty among his party mates. Months into the campaign period, the administration party was faced with a slew of defections from key officials, including former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit" Singson and Mrs. Arroyo’s former economic adviser, Albay Gov. Jose Salceda.

Teodoro’s camp has consistently downplayed these defections, saying Lakas-Kampi-CMD will continue to dominate the upcoming polls due to the party’s nationwide machinery. Lawyer Mike Toledo, Teodoro’s spokesperson, dismissed the trend as “a cleansing of the ranks" that will strengthen Teodoro’s campaign.

The ‘Danding connection’

Teodoro’s association with a highly unpopular president is not the only issue hounding his bid for the country’s highest post. Before he was associated with Mrs. Arroyo, Teodoro was closely associated with an equally controversial figure—business tycoon and crony of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Eduardo “Danding" Cojuangco Jr.

Teodoro’s mother, former Batasang Pambansa assemblywoman Mercedes Cojuangco-Teodoro, is Danding’s sister. Teodoro is said to have been Danding’s favorite nephew, running thrice as Tarlac congressman under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), a political party founded by Danding.

During his term at the House of Representatives, Teodoro was regarded as the NPC leader, spearheading controversial moves such as the impeachment complaint against former Chief Justice Hilario Davide in 2003 and efforts to change the Constitution. However, Teodoro is reported to have had a falling out with his uncle after he bolted the NPC in 2009 and joined the administration party.

Danding’s daughter, Lisa Cojuangco-Cruz, said in a GMA News report that his father was “very hurt" when Teodoro left the party that has taken care of his political career for nine years. Teodoro’s sudden departure from the NPC was cited by Danding’s wife Gretchen as the reason why her family would support “anybody but Gibo (Teodoro’s nickname)" in the May polls. Danding has remained mum on the issue and his presidential choice.

Teodoro has consistently refused to comment on the matter, saying the rift between him and Danding’s family are “familial issues" that should not be discussed in public.

"This does not have any effect sa buhay ni Juan dela Cruz. Walang epekto 'yan sa plataporma de gobyerno o performance. Kaya iyan ay hindi dapat issue sa isang presidential election, and I am not going to go down to that level," he said in one interview.

Positive, platform-centered campaign

In keeping with his campaign slogan “Galing at Talino," the Lakas-Kampi-CMD often expounds on his plans on education, health care, and governance in all his sorties.

Teodoro (Photo at left) plans to reform the country’s education sector, so that each Filipino family will have at least one college graduate. He also wants to implement changes in the student loan program to make education more accessible to the poor.

On health, Teodoro vouches for universal participative health care, where every Filipino gets covered by the same form of health benefits. He also believes in promoting medical tourism to keep Filipino doctors and nurses in the country.

“(Dapat) gawing mandatory ang health care sa lahat ng Pilipino whether sa private health care providers or public. Isama mo yan sa isang sistema para lahat pwedeng mag-contribute ‘yung may kakayahan," he said in his interview on GMA 7’s “Kandidato."

During the campaign period, Teodoro made a controversial turnaround of his stand on reproductive health. From initially supporting the much-disputed Reproductive Health Bill, the Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential bet softened his stand.

“With a problem so close to the bedroom such as this, we must work with each other. The government should be neutral and committed to support a moral choice," he said in one interview.

Teodoro said he changed his stand “to please disparate sectors," particularly the Catholic Church. A few months before the campaign, he had said he will not withdraw his support for the RH bill even if he incurs the ire of the Church, saying he believes the use of contraceptives should be a personal choice and not dictated by the State.

Teodoro has vowed to continue Mrs. Arroyo’s programs, especially those involving “long term infrastructure" and her low-cost housing program. However, he maintained that his presidency will not merely be a continuation of the current government.

“May sarili akong pag-iisip. May sarili akong mga pananaw ... I’d like to do things my way," Teodoro said.

As the campaigns wind up, Teodoro believes that his message of moving forward— summed up in his campaign jingle “Sulong Gibo"— will convince the people that he should be entrusted the country’s leadership for the next six years.

His biggest challenge, however, is proving that his “Galing at Talino" comes from a mind that is his own, and not from the powers-that-be that continue to be associated with his name even as the presidential race draws to a homestretch. – YA, GMANews.TV


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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