MANILA, Philippines—For a moment there, the two top contenders for the presidency in 2016 almost exchanged greetings of peace.
Vice President Jejomar Binay and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on Saturday found themselves seated just a few steps away from each other at the Thanksgiving Mass for Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in San Fernando de Dilao Parish Church in Paco, Manila.
Binay was seated at the right end of the front pew together with President Aquino and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
Roxas was seated at the leftmost end of the second pew, with President Aquino’s sisters, Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz and Victoria Elisa “Viel” Aquino-Dee, and Viel’s husband, Richard.
But when the Rite of Peace came, their eyes didn’t meet.
Roxas said he greeted the Vice President’s wife, former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay, and just “wished” his political adversary “peace.”
“Our eyes didn’t meet. Although I shook hands and [exchanged] ‘peace be with you’ with [Mrs. Binay]. So, even if our eyes didn’t meet during the Mass, I still wish him peace,” Roxas said.
Binay swore to God that he did not see Roxas.
“Before God and man, I can tell you without blinking my eyes that I didn’t see him. Sorry, but I didn’t see him and I just greeted Noynoy’s (President Aquino’s nickname) security guard at the back,” Binay said.
“I also waved to Ballsy and Viel,” he added.
Binay and Roxas are considered the top contenders for the presidency in 2016. They slugged it out for the vice presidency in 2010. Binay won, but Roxas is questioning his victory in the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
In September, Binay complained that Roxas’ wife, broadcaster Korina Sanchez, was alluding to him when she spoke on her radio show about “dark, little, evil spirits” eyeing the post of secretary of the interior.
Sanchez was at Saturday’s Mass. Roxas’ mother, papal awardee Judy Araneta-Roxas, was also there together with the widow of the late Sen. Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo.
Binay came to the Mass with his wife and his son, current Makati Mayor Junjun Binay. Roxas arrived with President Aquino and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.
The Archdiocese of Manila also invited Speaker Feliciano Belmonte of the House of Representatives and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, but they were unable to attend.
First posted 8:01 pm | Saturday, December 1st, 2012