Gibo’s gamble for 2022

After a 10-year hiatus, Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. is trying to make a political comeback by offering himself up as a vice-presidential running mate to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, one of the administration's potential contenders for president in next year's elections.

Teodoro, who turns 57 today, June 14, placed fourth among eight candidates in the 2010 presidential race that his estranged second cousin, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III won. In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte asked him to rejoin the government by serving as his secretary of defense, a position he occupied from August 2007 to November 2009 under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He declined the offer and did not give any reason for turning it down.

Last February, Teodoro dropped hints on social media about his readiness to rejoin politics. He made his presence felt on Facebook by changing his cover picture with a green check beside the year 2022. Days later, he posted a photo with the words "Gibo in your (heart)... Green Heart, Young Heart, Fresh Heart... Beating, Pulsating, Echoing... HAIL 2022!"

For all the time that he was in politics, Teodoro was known for his closeness to his uncle, the late Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr., who was said to have treated him like a son. But their relationship soured, reportedly because Teodoro suddenly left the Nationalist People's Coalition, a political party Cojuangco founded in 1992, when he ran for president.

Teodoro joined the then-ruling party, Lakas-National Union of Christian Democrats (Lakas-NUCD), and became its contender for president in 2010. The Cojuangco-Teodoro rift became so ugly that Gretchen Cojuangco, Danding's wife, said in an interview that their family was voting for "anybody but Gibo."

While Teodoro was on hiatus from politics, his wife, Monica Louise "Nikki" Prieto, served as the Philippines' special envoy to the United Nations Children's Fund from September 2017 to September 2018. She was a congresswoman from 2007 to 2010, representing the first district of Tarlac, which her husband had occupied for three terms, from 1998 to 2007.

In his political comeback, will Teodoro use again his slogan "Galing at Talino" to propel his campaign for the country's second-highest post?

While slugging it out for the presidency in 2010, Teodoro did not say unpleasant words, at least publicly, that could exacerbate his strained relationship with Danding Cojuangco's family. He refrained from commenting on the unpleasant statements from the Cojuangco side, saying that family matters should take a backseat to affairs of state.

In that episode, at least, Teodoro showed a gentlemanly and statesman-like attitude. In a recent interview on television, he said his defeat in the 2010 presidential race had humbled him and made him more realistic in life.

Four months after showing interest in rejoining politics, Teodoro flew earlier this June to Davao City and met with President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter. Former budget secretary and Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. acted as the go-between.

Even before the meeting, Andaya posted on social media that a Duterte-Carpio and Teodoro tandem in the May 2022 polls was already a "done deal."

Teodoro, who topped the 1989 bar exams, confirmed that he would "gladly" back Duterte-Carpio as vice president should she decide to join the 2022 presidential race.

Groups have been urging Duterte-Carpio to run for president in next year's polls, organizing several activities under a "Run Sara Run" slogan. Last January, the Davao City mayor said she was not seeking the presidency at this time and appealed to those who want her to do so to wait until 2034.

But with Teodoro, whose name has not been tarnished by corruption and other scandals, promising to back her presidential bid, will Duterte-Carpio now accept the challenge?

Will Teodoro's gamble in politics this time be a success? Will he soon jump into Duterte-Carpio’s regional party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago (Faction for Change), or stay with Lakas-NUCD?

I have known Teodoro from his time as a congressman, but after more than a decade and his claim that his defeat in the 2010 presidential race had matured him, a lot must have changed about him, including his stance on issues such as Charter change.

I used to admire his intelligence. He was known for his brilliant mind; that's why his 2010 slogan was "Galing at Talino." But I was disappointed with his position many years ago, that the House alone can vote to introduce amendments to the Constitution, even without any senator voting for or against it, for as long as the required three-fourths vote is achieved.

If a bill changing the name of a street requires a Senate vote, why would an issue as serious as an amendment to the Constitution keep the Senate out of the equation? The argument that the Constitution was silent on whether voting by the Senate and the House should be done separately or jointly to approve or reject an amendment is utterly ridiculous to push forward a partisan intent.

He also refused to participate in plenary debates, citing the poor quality of deliberations that mostly delved on parochial issues. If bright minds like him would rather watch and laugh at the low-quality debates than take part and elevate the level of discussions, where would that bring us?

The opposition's initial list of contenders for the top positions is not that good either.

With just 11 months to go before our next trip to the polling precincts, we still hope that we will have better choices this time.


The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.
This column also appeared in The Manila Times.

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