MANILA, Philippines?Everything but the endorsement.
Malacañang officials Wednesday cheered Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro?s announcement to run for President in the 2010 elections, trumpeting his credentials and even comparing him to US President Barack Obama.
Malacañang officials have been floating the name of Teodoro as a possible candidate for President since November last year.
?He is doing the right thing, saying the right thing. As far as expressing his aspiration to be a candidate in 2010, he?s a very capable person,? Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told reporters.
?I might become his PR man but he is a topnotcher in law, in the bar exam of 1989. I?ll say it in one word: He has the wherewithal to aspire for higher position,? Ermita said.
?How old is he? 47? 43? He?s three to four years younger than President Obama. One of you is signaling me he?s handsome,? he said.
?I am glad to hear that he already came out because everybody had been asking what his plans are. Now that he has come out, I suppose he is one of those that will be somehow in the radar screen of surveys,? he said.
The otherwise low-key Teodoro has said that he wants to become the country?s next President, but concedes that securing the endorsement of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) party is crucial.
?The President?s endorsement is very important, being my direct boss,? said Teodoro, 44, a nephew of former President Corazon Aquino and Eduardo ?Danding? Cojuangco, chair of San Miguel Corp. and head of the Nationalist People?s Coalition (NPC).
Teodoro is on leave from the NPC, which is allied with Ms Arroyo.
Ermita said that Teodoro was being ?practical? when he indicated he would seek the endorsement of Ms Arroyo, titular head of Lakas and the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi).
?I think that?s a very legitimate aspiration of an aspirant,? he said.
Gabriel Claudio, presidential political adviser, also welcomed Teodoro?s ?emergence as presidential material.?
?There is no doubt that among our national leaders, including those touted as presidential material, Gilbert is among those with youthful idealism, outstanding intellectual capability, leadership, nationalism and a firm grasp of the problems that beset our country,? Claudio said in a text message.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde described Teodoro along with Vice President Noli de Castro as ?presidential timber.?
The other choices of the administration included Sen. Richard Gordon and Chair Bayani Fernando of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, who was the first to declare his intention to run for President, officials have said.
Claudio, however, said that Teodoro, like everyone else, would undergo a selection process by Lakas and Kampi which are seeking to merge to form a formidable slate in 2010.
Ermita said that he could not say that Teodoro was leading the group pending the results of the selection process.
?I don?t know yet the criteria that Secretary Claudio will present to the President as chair of the party that would be the basis for the selection of the anointed candidate,? he said.
Caution from Gordon
Gordon cautioned Teodoro against relying too much on Ms Arroyo or Lakas.
?His statement that he will run after he is endorsed, that?s not the way a president should act,? Gordon said at a press conference.
?When you run for the presidency, you?re asking for the trust of the entire country not only on your skill, not only on your experience, not only your integrity, but in your ability to motivate your people to take them into the Promise Land, if you will,? Gordon said.
Gordon admitted that he himself would welcome Ms Arroyo?s endorsement, dismissing suggestions that this could be ?a kiss of death.?
?I will accept whoever will endorse me as long as there?s no strings attached,? he said. With a report from Michael Lim Ubac