Roxas cool to 2016 alliance with Binay
MANILA, Philippines–Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, presumptive presidential candidate of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), doused cold water Sunday on suggestions of a coalition with the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
In a statement in Filipino, Roxas said the issue was not about Binay but about who would continue President Aquino’s “daang matuwid” (straight path) governance.
He issued the statement a day after the Inquirer reported that Binay was open to the idea of having the interior secretary as his running mate in the 2016 presidential election.
Quoting the President, Roxas said: “We have to choose someone who beyond doubt will continue [Aquino’s] program and clean governance.”
Roxas said it was clear that the agenda of UNA remained diametrically opposed to the straight path governance that the LP was pursuing.
He noted that UNA opposed the position taken by Aquino and the LP on the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012 and the prosecution of those who pocketed their allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada—allies of Binay—and Sen. Bong Revilla are detained on plunder and graft charges in connection with the P10-billion PDAF scam.
Roxas added that UNA was against the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and budget reforms of the administration.
“We in LP are fully committed to the leadership and platform of P-Noy and his anticorruption agenda as well as his covenant with our bosses [the people],” he said. “In other words, we are committed to all the programs covered by daang matuwid.”
‘Not a priority’
Malacañang asked politicians not to “second-guess” Aquino on his choice of the administration standard-bearer in the 2016 elections, saying politics was “not a priority” for him at this point.
“Let us not second-guess him because the President is attending to so many priorities,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said over Radyo ng Bayan.
Aquino has kept mum on whom he prefers to succeed him two years from now. But in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last month, the President called on voters to go for someone “who will, without a shred of doubt, continue the transformation we are achieving.”
The LP’s presumptive standard-bearer is Roxas, who gave way to Aquino and decided to instead run as his vice-presidential candidate in 2010. Roxas lost to then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, who is now aspiring for the presidency.
Binay said on Saturday that he was open to tapping Roxas as his running mate in 2016, adding he was also willing to pick Sen. Francis Escudero.
“Nothing is impossible in politics. Everything is possible,” the Vice President said, referring to a possible coalition between his UNA and Aquino’s LP.
Binay criticized calls for a term extension for Aquino. “It was a selfish proposal to begin with, motivated more by personal rather than national interest,” he said in a statement.
But the President’s allies continued to pitch for another six-year term for him, one that would obviously require constitutional amendments.
Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas on Sunday said now was “the best time to change the Constitution because we may never have another chance to have a President who is proven not only as an honest and effective leader but also one who has no other ambition but to turn the Philippines into a great and progressive nation.”
“We are sure that he will never abuse power. I think that we should not waste this opportunity,” he said in a statement.
Coloma said the President “continues to listen to the voice of the people” but maintained that Aquino was “preoccupied with many other things.”
“There’s no such talk [with the Cabinet] because we’re not devoting time on that because we’re preoccupied with so many priority programs,” he said of proposals to extend Aquino’s term.
Commitment to reforms
Whoever will be Aquino’s anointed one in 2016 must be someone who has shown full commitment to the reforms he has begun, and not just somebody who will promise to do so, according to Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
Pimentel, an avowed supporter of Aquino, said he was just listening to the President’s own message in his most recent Sona, where the Chief Executive said the public should elect a President who would continue the programs and policies he had laid down.
The candidate who will receive Aquino’s support in the next presidential election should not be the subject of any doubt that he or she is also following the administration’s “daang matuwid [straight path],” Pimentel said.
The senator said he was not alluding to anyone and was just voicing his sentiment on the kind of candidate who he hoped the President would support.
“It should not be ‘if or I hope this possible successor will continue the straight path,’ because if that would be the case, this person would not pass. This should be the test [in choosing who to endorse],” the senator said in a phone interview.
“It should be someone who, without any doubt, will continue what he has begun,” he added.
Pimentel also said that if Aquino would support a candidate who he thought was not up to par, he would transfer his allegiance to a better candidate.
“My support for the President is voluntary…. There’s no contract saying I will have to support his candidate,” he said.–With reports from Christian V. Esguerra, Leila B. Salaverria and Julie Aurelio
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