I am not voting for Gibo

Too bad for Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro, his “galing at talino” is not apparent during his stint as Secretary of National Defense.

I will not deny the general observation about Gibo during those debates and fora – he is articulate, he gave the best answers to difficult questions, and he has the charisma to charm even members of his own gender (and preference). The overall assessment is that Gibo is quite intelligent, knowledgeable in fields that no ordinary politician will delve into. In short,

In an ideal world (and circumstance), Gibo is the best choice in this year’s candidates for the presidency. But this is reality.

Teodoro was Secretary of National Defense (SecDef) from August 2007 (replacing Avelino Cruz, who resigned allegedly due to policy differences with Gloria Arroyo) till he resigned last year to seek the presidency. As SecDef, he had direct supervision over the Armed Forces of the Philippines. How did he fare as SecDef. Patricia Evangelista answers in her Philippine Daily Inquirer column, The guns of Gibo:

In a testimony by Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, husband and brother of many of the victims from the Nov. 23 Maguindanao massacre, Teodoro had warned him repeatedly to curb his intention to challenge the Ampatuans for Maguindanao’s governorship. The Ampatuans, he said, were prone to violence, and Mangudadatu risked his own life by choosing to throw the electoral gauntlet. This is the same Teodoro, by his own admission, who used the Ampatuans as a buffer against the MILF in his term in national defense. His was a choice to pander to the Ampatuans’ demands, choosing to appeal to the Mangudadatus not to exercise their legal and democratic right to run for public office, asking them not to offend his guard dogs in Maguindanao.

And still, when bodies were being scraped out of the foothills of Sitio Masalay, Teodoro bewailed how the massacre “had laid to waste” all the good he did as defense chief, forgetting that his choices as defense chief permitted the massacre to happen. It is odd that he feels himself exempt from responsibility. When asked why he did not disarm the Ampatuans when he could, he claims it would have been difficult to disarm them “given the circumstance,” with kidnappings and tension over the Bangsamoro treaty. It can also be argued, it would have been difficult to disarm them while they remained allies of his own President.

And so fifty seven lives (at least thirty four were journalists) were gone, snuffed out by people who think they can murder people like they swat house flies. A massacre done by people who could have been disarmed by the security forces who was then headed by someone named Gibo Teodoro. He could have ordered the AFP to dismantle all private armies, but he did not. The Ampatuan massacre will stand as strong testimony on Gibo’s galing at talino.

As SecDef, he also headed the National Disaster Coordinating Council, the lead agency when it comes to disaster management and relief. The Wikipedia article for Teodoro has this curious line on the second paragraph of the entry:

He was also known for his contributions to the people after Typhoon Ondoy hit the Philippines.

Curious, because majority of victims of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) will dispute that assertion. Curious, because maybe that’s the point of whoever wrote that Wikipedia article – his contributions to the man-made disaster that was NDCC’s actions during Ondoy’s inundation. He was head of DND/NDCC since 2007, and Ondoy visited Luzon last year. The NDCC under better leadership could have prepared for disasters by investing in necessary rescue assets. The flooding had caught NDCC with its pants down, and the general assessment was that the NDCC just did not know what to do. In fact, the NDCC had abdicated from its role and instead contented itself spewing statistics. And the most damning testimony of Teodoro’s galing at talino was the private sector’s massive effort in disaster relief, filling in for a non-existent, Teodoro-led NDCC.

And lastly, his statement that he would not actively push for the prosecution of his patron, Gloria Arroyo, is in itself a reason why I am not voting for him. I believe that Arroyo should be prosecuted for all the crimes that she committed in all those years she spent as president. I will not vote for Teodoro precisely because he has already exonerated her.

He might be intelligent, but I cannot see him using that intelligence for the common good. Not before, not now, and not ever.

(Read Gibbs Cadiz’ take on Manny Villar, Noynoy Aquino, and Gibo Teodoro. Read his comments on Gibo; Gibbs has demolished that “galing at talino” shit much better than I could.)