PRESIDENTIAL candidate Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. resigned as chairman of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, a decision he confirmed yesterday while in Cebu for a meeting with One Cebu officials and members.

He remains the party’s standard-bearer.

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“The party has 18,000 candidates and I actually don’t have the time to devote to them all and I have to fully devote my time to this campaign,” Teodoro told reporters last night. “My responsibility now is to win the elections.”

He denied insinuations the decision was provoked by recent defections from Lakas-Kampi to the Nacionalista Party, something his allies in Cebu are also dealing with.

Two days after Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz (Cebu Province, 6th district) confirmed she will no longer support Teodoro, One Cebu also announced it will no longer support her candidacy for Mandaue City mayor.

“Right now we don’t have a mayoral candidate as well as candidates for vice mayor and councilors since the entire slate of Congressman Soon-Ruiz, which includes Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna and all councilors, have resigned from One Cebu,” Garcia said.

The governor, who is also One Cebu’s president, received Ruiz’s resignation letter last Monday.

The latest Social Weather Stations survey placed Teodoro in fourth place among Visayas respondents, with seven percent. Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III led the survey, with 46 percent, followed by Villar with 30 percent.

Despite these results, the governor said One Cebu remains behind Teodoro and will not “switch sides in the middle of a battle in the hope of aligning with the winning side.”

She was immediately informed of Teodoro’s resignation as party chairman and was with the presidential candidate last night for a meeting at the Marco Polo Hotel, with her father Reps. Pablo Garcia (Cebu, 2nd district) and brother Rep. Pablo John Garcia (Cebu, 3rd district).

One Cebu’s mayors, vice mayors and Association of Barangay Councils presidents attended.

“He informed me that he has resigned as Lakas chairman and I can very well understand the reason for his resignation. He told me that he cannot look after the concerns of 18,000 candidates all over the country while he himself is running for president,” the governor said in an ANC interview last night.

In the same interview, Cebu City mayoral candidate Alvin Garcia admitted he wanted to support a common candidate with the Garcias in the Province, but that no such agreement was reached.

The Cebu City opposition party Kusug, which Alvin heads, recently forged an alliance with Villar’s NP.

Alvin said the choices were down to Villar and Teodoro, but Villar’s high ratings made the decision a simple one for Kusug to make.

“We are very supportive of each other locally,” he said of One Cebu. “In the national level, we have decided that if we cannot back one candidate, at least we will respect each other’s wishes,” said Alvin.

At the opening of the official local campaign, Teodoro was in Argao, Cebu, for a rally of One Cebu. Even then, he told reporters he will no longer appear in media debates because he wants to focus on his campaign on the ground.

Teodoro said last night that when he was chairman of the National People’s Coalition, he was the only congressman that had no committee to run as he gave everything to his party mates.

He hopes the Lakas-Kampi-CMD executive committee will choose as his replacement someone who is not running for any post or is running unopposed.

His vice-chairmen are vice presidential candidate Edu Manzano, Sarangani Gov. Miguel Dominguez and Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno.

Local mayors under One Cebu agreed with Teodoro’s decision.

“As much as he is busy campaigning, he cannot act as party chairman and presidential candidate at the same time,” said Balamban Mayor Alex Binghay.

Medellin Mayor Ricky Ramirez commented that Teodoro’s decision was a “good move to free him from the burden of dealing with party logistics.”

“He should not be saddled with the problems of the party. Party problems should be left to someone who is a non-candidate,” said Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy, who is running unopposed.

Despite recent developments in the sixth district, One Cebu

will continue to support the candidacies of former mayor Thadeo Ouano (for Provincial Board member) and congressional candidate Gabriel Luis “Luigi” Quisumbing.

As to the candidates for mayor, vice mayor and councilors in Mandaue City, Governor Garcia said the party has two options. They can leave the area a free zone or they could shop for a new candidate to support.

“The most I can say is that with this turn of events, I think what they did has put them in a most pathetic light,” the governor said of Soon-Ruiz’s decision to leave Lakas-Kampi and One Cebu.

“I am very, very disappointed in her but then again, I guess you may know her more. I certainly do now,” said Garcia.

She recalled that in 2007, Consolacion Mayor Avelino Gungob promised to support Ruiz in the congressional race against Quisumbing. Later, Gungob changed his mind and decided to junk Ruiz. Gungob, though, promised to continue supporting Garcia’s candidacy.

The governor declined Gungob’s support.

She will also decline Ruiz’s offer to continue supporting her reelection campaign this year. She called it a “back-handed compliment.”

“We do not drop one candidate for another for the sake of political expediency,” the governor said.