Arroyo allies cozy up to Binay
Allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are seeking a coalition with Vice President Jejomar Binay and former President Joseph Estrada for the midterm elections next year.
Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) has formally joined forces with Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) to form the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
A Lakas-Kampi stalwart, Zambales Representative Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, on Wednesday confirmed that she was invited by Binay to join his senatorial ticket for the 2013 elections.
“Binay got me. Am not sure if there is a formal alliance,” said Magsaysay who is on her third and final term in the House of Representatives.
Magsaysay, a deputy minority leader, is expected to be joined by a former Lakas-Kampi member, Juan Miguel Zubiri, in the Binay coalition.
House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, Lakas-Kampi vice chairman, said he hoped to formalize a political tie-up with UNA for the local elections as well.
Estrada on Wednesday said the alliance between PDP-Laban and PMP was a “done deal” and confirmed that it was part of Binay’s eventual candidacy in the 2016 presidential election.
“Sigurado na yun (That’s for sure),” the former President told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview, referring to Binay’s presidential run.
Binay said in February that he would be running for president in 2016 when President Aquino’s six-year term ends. The Vice President said it would be “hypocritical” of him to deny his plans to run for the country’s highest post.
“I dream of becoming the President… I cannot deny that,” he told reporters.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said the “coalition agreement” between PMP and PDP-Laban had been signed and filed in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in time for the March 31 deadline for the registration of coalition parties.
Pimentel said the new coalition was not necessarily put up with Mr. Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP) in mind.
Not anti-LP coalition
“This is not an anti-LP coalition,” he told the Inquirer. “This is an entity, a coalition between the political parties of former President Estrada and Vice President Binay so that anybody who wants to join can do so, the LP included.”
Former Senator Manuel Roxas II, Mr. Aquino’s running mate, has a pending election protest against Binay, then Estrada’s running mate who scored a close win in the 2010 vice presidential race.
Estrada said UNA had been attracting “so many applicants” vying for a slot in the senatorial ticket. He said Binay would eventually have the final say on who gets picked. He said he would only be available for consultation.
Besides himself, Pimentel said prospective candidates include San Juan Representative Jose Victor Ejercito, Cagayan Representative Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile Jr., Joey de Venecia, Ernesto Maceda and reelectionist Senators Gregorio Honasan, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda and Alan Peter Cayetano.
De Venecia, who blew the whistle on the government’s national broadband network deal after he failed to get the contract, ran and lost in the 2010 senatorial elections.
Also in the mix are former Senator Jamby Madrigal and Zubiri, Estrada said.
VP’s eldest daughter
Escudero said Ma. Lourdes Nancy Binay, the eldest daughter of the Vice President, was also being considered for the senatorial lineup.
A survey from February 26 to March 9 by Pulse Asia showed that Escudero, Nancy Binay, Enrile (son and namesake of the current Senate President), Ejercito (son of Estrada) and Pimentel (son of former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr.) were likely to win in the senatorial race.
The survey was topped by Senator Loren Legarda of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, followed by Escudero.
“I had an informal talk with Vice President Binay. He mentioned it already. He is planning (to have his own senatorial ticket),” said Escudero, who is not part of “the main group” that is putting up the slate.
Escudero described Binay and Estrada as “natural allies” because they “ran together in 2010.”
In his fresh bid for the presidency in 2010, Estrada lost to Aquino by 5.7 million votes, while Binay narrowly defeated Roxas by some 720,000 votes.
In that battle, Escudero supported Aquino and Binay, coining the “Noy-Bi” catchphrase which infuriated the Liberal Party camp since Binay, then mayor of Makati City, was running in tandem with Estrada, the PMP standard-bearer.
Pimentel made no effort to hide his dismay over the possible inclusion of Zubiri on the UNA senatorial slate. He noted that Zubiri was the reason he waited four years before he could assume his Senate post.
Zubiri was declared the winner of the 12th and final slot in the 2007 senatorial election. Pimentel contested the result and Zubiri eventually stepped down on Aug. 3, 2011, eight days before the Senate Electoral Tribunal declared Pimentel the rightful winner.
“Unfortunately, he is on the (UNA) list,” Pimentel told the Inquirer. “That’s a big problem. How could I be with the person who deprived me of my four years in the Senate? Certainly, I’m not jumping with joy over this.”
Pimentel said he was wondering why Zubiri would even be considered when he was neither a member of the PDP-Laban nor the PMP. “Unless he’s now secretly a member of the PMP,” he said.
Saying he would not want to be a “hindrance” to the two parties’ unity, the senator said the issue would eventually be settled using “democratic processes” within UNA. “I will express my objection and my reservation,” he said.
But Estrada said having Pimentel and Zubiri on the same ticket would show a “solid Mindanao” since both of them come from the same region.
The Comelec is expected to begin accepting certificates of candidacy for next year’s polls in October.