Binay in virtual campaign sortie as he meets with UNA leaders in Maguindanao
COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay, bringing along a retinue of close political allies, barnstormed Maguindanao’s first district Sunday, prompting some neutral observers to see it as an early United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) bandwagon on a campaign trail.
With a tri-media group in tow, the country’s second highest official took center stage in several activities, shaking hands, hugging people, giving high fives to supporters and acceding to requests for photo ops and selfie poses.
Hans Arao, Binay’s media handler, said the vice president was accommodating in meeting people from all walks of life, but the tight security somewhat limited the access of the presidential aspirant and the people to each other.
An hour before arriving at the Awang Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat town, Philippine Air force helicopters were on reconnaissance flight to ensure the safety of the vice presidential party and well-wishers.
Welcome streamers were unfurled along roads from the airport to the national highway and the designated venues of Binay’s appearance.
Maguindanao Vice Gov. Lester Sinsuat said the presence of the vice president overwhelmed the crowd of young and the elderly, especially when he inaugurated the Senior Citizens Affairs Center and inducted the Mindanao State University officers of the Maguindanao Graduate School Students Association.
Binay then proceeded to the People’s Palace (City Hall) here to meet with city officials led by Mayor Japal Guiani Jr. and Association of Barangay Captains president Abdila Lim.
Guiani, who is the UNA local chapter head along with his vice mayor Abdullah Andang, considered Binay’s first visit as historic for “the next President of the Republic.”
Informed of the Commission on Elections recent notice of disqualification issued to Mayor Guaini due to his alleged failure to submit his Statement of Contributions and Expenditures in the 2010 elections, Binay just shrugged off the issue as an old political game of intimidation. He said the city mayor has complied with the requirement.
Guiani described the Comelec notice as “political harassment” by detractors.
The vice president, accompanied by former Tarlac Gov. Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, and Reps. Gustavo Tambunting and Sherwin Gatchalian of Parañaque City and Valenzuela City, respectively, also had an audience with the Catholic congregation of the Oblates of Mary, Immaculate led by Orlando Cardinal Quevedo.
Quevedo and Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo wished Binay well in his political career, reminding him not to forget the plight of the poor and disadvantaged citizens of the country.
In the evening, Binay took time out to mingle with Alpha Phi Omega fraternity brothers at the Al-Nor Recreation Center.
Prominent Muslim political figures from the Matalam, Mastura and Midtimbang, among others, said the Binay trip in Maguindanao augured well for the vice president’s ongoing grassroots campaign for the well for his political plunge for the highest post of the land.