Pacquiao joining Binay partyBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
DAVAO CITY—Is Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao joining Vice President Jejomar Binay’s PDP-Laban party?
If you ask the Veep, the answer is yes. But if you ask the eight-division world boxing champion, it’s not a settled matter.
“It’s confirmed,” Binay said in an interview with Solar TV at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Friday. “He [Pacquiao] approached me and told me that he wanted to join PDP-Laban.”
Binay said Pacquiao told him about his plan to join the party last month, during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Awards night.
Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, PDP-Laban president, also confirmed that Pacquiao was joining the party. “It’s confirmed that he’s joining PDP-Laban,” Pimentel said in a text message to the Inquirer. “There’s already a meeting of the minds. What’s missing only is the oath-taking.”
Talking to reporters Friday on the sidelines of the energy summit called here by President Aquino, Pacquiao indicated an intention to join PDP-Laban, but he made it clear that he was not yet a member of the party.
“[Binay and I] are only close that’s why people are thinking that I’m already PDP-Laban. But I have yet to take oath,” Pacquiao said.
“[But if he is willing to take me in], why not? We support all good advocacies,” he said.
In another interview in the same venue, Pacquiao, the most recent and prominent target of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in the Aquino government’s efforts to raise more tax revenues, said Binay’s group found him acceptable.
“[I’m acceptable to them]. But I have yet to take my oath,” Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao won his congressional seat in 2010 as a member of the Nacionalista Party, headed by Sen. Manuel Villar. Villar was the NP standard-bearer, who topped the surveys before then Sen. Benigno Aquino III became the Liberal Party’s (LP) presidential candidate.
After the elections, Pacquiao met with Mr. Aquino at the president-elect’s Times Street residence to say he would support the new administration.
Pacquiao has remained with the NP, but is part of the LP-led coalition in the House of Representatives.
But the BIR’s going after him for alleged failure to submit tax records and endorsement contracts for review may have driven him to jump to the other side of the fence.
His lawyers claim that he wasn’t given due process before the filing of the case as he didn’t have the opportunity to answer the allegations against him.
Pacquiao asked the BIR to sack its regional director in Region 12, as the case that was brought against him had hurt his reputation and his business as a product endorser. He claimed he was losing endorsement deals abroad because of the charges.
Binay’s PDP-Laban party recently formed the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) with the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino of his standard-bearer in the 2010 elections, former President Joseph Estrada.
Aside from allies of President Aquino who aren’t members of the ruling LP, the coalition is also looking to get known critics of Mr. Aquino as senatorial candidates in next year’s midterm elections. These include former Sen. Ernesto Maceda and Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay.
In Puerto Princesa City on Friday, Binay hinted at plans to build up UNA by forging alliances with local political power blocs throughout the country. He tried to dispel notions, however, that he was steering away from the administration to prepare for the midterm elections.
“[This coming election, local political groups will prevail.
It’s like a lock-stock-and-barrel situation in which the influence of national parties on the outcome of the local elections will be almost nil,]” Binay said.
Binay, the Aquino administration’s housing czar, was in Puerto Princesa to distribute housing titles to beneficiaries of the national government’s housing program.
The Veep acknowledged that UNA’s taking in key allies of the Arroyo administration has fueled speculations that PDP-Laban will soon break away from the Aquino administration.
“Our being opposition should be regarded in the spirit of what prevails in the democratic system. We are for constructive opposition. [If there is no] constructive opposition, we don’t have a democracy,” Binay said.
He brushed aside criticisms from administration stalwarts of his acceptance of allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo into UNA.
“They are people who have qualifications.” Binay said, referring to Arroyo’s allies. “Isn’t this better? Let’s give ‘opposition’ a better definition,” he added.
He said PDP-Laban was in discussions with groups and individuals “who approach us to join us.”
Binay was accompanied in Puerto Princesa by Magsaysay and PDP-Laban Secretary-General Joey de Venecia.
Reacting to criticisms raised against her joining UNA, Magsaysay lashed back at members of the Liberal Party who she claimed were also former supporters of Arroyo.
“[Who were those criticizing me? They were also allies of former President Arroyo],” Magsaysay said. “[They were also our coalition partners who were with the majority allied with GMA. Most were LP members who also came from Lakas-Kampi. We only differ in that we did not change parties].
Her joining UNA, she said, is a “principled” move “because we have similar advocacies.”
She added, “[I joined UNA because we have a similar vision of what we want for our country]. This also shows that [Binay] could be the healing leader of this country.” With reports from Redempto Anda, Inquirer Southern Luzon; Tina Santos and ChristianEsguerra