Binay seeks Manny V. Pangilinan for VP
Vice President Jejomar Binay believes his dream team-up in 2016 with telecommunications and media tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan—whom he calls “Bossing”—will be good for the Philippines and his bid to run his government, when he is already president, like a private corporation.
There’s one problem, though: Pangilinan has no plans of running for any public office.
Binay, 71, said in an interview with the Inquirer last week that he was wooing Pangilinan, asking him to be his vice-presidential running mate. The last time they talked about it, he said, was last month.
The Vice President said he wanted Pangilinan, better known by his initials MVP, to be his running mate because of the tycoon’s track record in business and his not being a politician.
Binay, who disclosed his presidential plans even before he was elected vice president in 2010, said he had been considering Pangilinan as a running mate since last year.
He said he had met with Pangilinan and asked the businessman to consider his offer.
“Bossing, that’s what I call him,” he said, referring to Pangilinan, chair of the giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).
Aside from Pangilinan’s being a corporate genius, Binay said he liked the PLDT chief’s strong advocacy of corporate social responsibility.
Pangilinan would focus on social concerns like providing assistance to victims of calamities but at the same time he keeps a low-profile, Binay said.
“He’s one corporate guy,” he said.
Pangilinan is chief executive of Hong Kong-listed First Pacific, which owns PLDT; TV5 and Manila Electric Co. (Meralco). He is also chair of Philex Mining Corp., among other business behemoths in the country.
Binay brushed off questions about the possibility that Pangilinan’s business ties would get in the way of his responsibilities as vice president.
“There’s always something negative for everyone,” he said.
Binay said he did not want a politician for a running mate. Rather, he wanted a businessman like Pangilinan who knew and liked the work habits of people in the private sector.
Born Jesus Jose Cabauatan Binay, the Vice President said that long before he became mayor of Makati City, he worked at Insular Life as a clerk and at the same time studied at the University of the Philippines College of Law.
Having come from the private sector, he said, he was unfamiliar with the work ethics of people in the government and was surprised at it when he became mayor.
He introduced corporate reforms in City Hall and for three terms ran the city government like a business enterprise whose successes in administration and public service he now wanted to replicate in the national government.
“From my experience, the government can’t be successful without working hand in hand with the private sector,” he said.
And should he attain the presidency, Binay said he would run the government “the same way I ran City Hall.”
Asked if he had other choices for a vice-presidential running mate, Binay said he was considering several people and some of them were politicians.
Among them, he said, are Senators Grace Poe, Jinggoy Estrada and Chiz Escudero.
But Binay insisted he preferred Pangilinan or “someone equivalent.”
Not interested in politics
A source privy to the goings-on in the Binay camp said Pangilinan had told the Vice President that he was not interested in politics.
The source said, however, that that was several months ago and he did not know the latest developments in Binay’s chasing after Pangilinan for a vice-presidential running mate.
The source also said some businessmen who were close to Binay had spoken to him about their concern that Pangilinan’s business interests might cause complications should the tycoon become vice president.
Binay told them, however, that he planned to give Pangilinan a position in the Cabinet and that meant the tycoon would have to divest himself of his business interests, the source said.
The source said Binay wanted his vice president to be “very active” in the running of the government.
Aiming for public office?
The business community has always been rife with talk that Pangilinan is aiming for public office, likely the presidency.
The talk became intense in 2009, when a television ad campaign for a group called Ako Mismo, backed by the Pangilinan-controlled PLDT Smart Foundation, hit the airwaves.
It was seen as a trial balloon for a Pangilinan run for Malacañang in 2010.
But Pangilinan did not run for any public office that year.
Talk about Pangilinan’s interest in public office would not die, though.
Late last year, there were reports that Pangilinan met with Binay to explore a team-up between them for 2016.
A businessman with links to Binay’s camp said Pangilinan offered to underwrite Binay’s presidential campaign on condition that Binay would make him his vice-presidential running mate.
After careful consideration, the businessman said, Binay declined the PLDT chief’s offer, noting that such an arrangement would alienate other potential campaign contributors, several of whom were Pangilinan’s business rivals.
Weeks later, however, word came that the Vice President softened his stand after Pangilinan offered a larger contribution to Binay’s campaign.
The talk was that Pangilinan offered to contribute as much as P5 billion in personal funds to Binay’s run for the Palace in exchange for being designated as his vice-presidential running mate.
But the information could not be independently verified.
Two independent sources separately confirmed to the Inquirer that Pangilinan met with Binay at a private dinner hosted for the Binay family.
The meeting took place a few weeks ago, the sources said.
All that’s wrong
But in a text message to the Inquirer, Pangilinan denied he was poised to become Binay’s vice-presidential running mate.
Pangilinan also denied the reports that he tried to contact Binay and that he offered to write the check for Binay’s presidential campaign.
Asked if he was holding on to his previous declaration that he was not running for any public office, Pangilinan replied, “Yes.”
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