Binay eyes Aquino backing
Despite facing plunder and graft charges over alleged corruption during his tenure as mayor of Makati City, Vice President Jejomar Binay on Wenesday said he still hoped President Aquino would endorse him as the administration’s presidential candidate in next year’s elections, drawing hisses from Malacañang and supporters of the government’s reform program.
“I still hope, to the last minute, on Election Day, I will be considered,” Binay told a news conference at the Luneta Hotel in Manila.
Binay, the first politician to announce his plan to run for President in 2016, said a come-from-behind support, such as Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero’s swing to his side toward the end of the campaign in 2010, could work for him again.
Although a supporter of Aquino, Escudero, who had strong voter support, dropped his running mate, then Sen. Mar Roxas, and endorsed Binay for Vice President.
Roxas lost the election to Binay, and the ruling Liberal Party (LP) blamed Escudero for his defeat.
Binay said he expected a similar support to come from Aquino next year.
“I expect that. I am hoping that the time will come when he will consider me,” he told reporters.
Asked whether that could happen, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., a leader of the ruling LP, said, “No.”
Binay, Belmonte said, must be counting on his years of friendship with Aquino’s family.
‘Lost his mind’
Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, also an LP official, said Binay had probably “lost his mind.”
President Aquino, he said, “is not thinking of endorsing” Binay, “not even in his dreams.”
“The Vice President’s pronouncements are becoming funnier and funnier,” Erice said. “He offered to get Mar as his running mate. He declined. Then he asked [Sen.] Grace [Poe], [Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada] and [Davao City Mayor Rodrigo] Duterte. They all declined. He might ask the President to be his running mate, he will be snubbed again.”
Roxas, now Aquino’s interior secretary who is expecting to win the President’s endorsement, appeared not to be bothered by Binay’s hopes.
“It’s the right of every citizen to dream. It’s the right of every citizen to hope,” Roxas told reporters in Butuan City, where he led the turnover of patrol vehicles to the local police.
In Malacañang, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the President had already made known that his successor should be someone who would pursue his administration’s anticorruption program.
“The President has mentioned the qualities he is looking for in a candidate. [The candidate must be] someone who will continue the reforms of daang matuwid,” Lacierda said, using the administration’s term for its reform program.
Although a presidential endorsement has not worked in a candidate’s favor since 1992, it is still coveted by politicians who have their eyes on Malacañang.
President Aquino has said he will announce his chosen candidate after he addresses a joint session of Congress for the last time on July 27.
But he has given the ruling Liberal Party the go-signal to support Roxas who, according to him, remains at the top of the administration’s list of potential candidates.
Roxas, however, is doing poorly in the polls, running third behind Poe and Binay.
Poe, who topped the 2013 senatorial election, has emerged as a potential presidential candidate and President Aquino has been holding talks with her, possibly for a slot on the administration’s 2016 ticket.
Binay is a friend of Aquino and his family. In August last year, Aquino’s sister, TV host and actress Kris Aquino, said on her show that she and her three sisters would support Binay if he would pursue the President’s reform program.
At Wednesday’s news conference, Binay promised to continue Aquino’s reforms, including the fight against official corruption.
“Those who are corrupt, we will take them out, but not the President,” he said.
Binay gamely answered questions about the 2016 presidential race, his plans and what he thought his presidency would be like should he win the election.
On choosing his Vice President, Binay said he preferred someone who had knowledge of the economy, mentioning his success in turning around Makati’s economy during his tenure as mayor.
“If I become President, I’d look at the experience. They will be serving for six years,” Binay said.
He said he would choose successful old-timers for members of his Cabinet.
“I would choose those who held posts in the Cabinet and had been successful in their positions,” Binay said.
“Second, I don’t want a politician in my Cabinet, except at the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government). Most likely they will just save up for the next election,” he said.
Binay dismissed the charges of corruption against him as a perception game that did not go far in bringing him down in the polls, noting that he remained the clear front-runner in the surveys.
He, however, described the charges against him as the “sad part” of his almost three decades in Philippine politics.–With reports from Gil C. Cabacungan, Nikko Dizon and Marlon Ramos
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