Binays, Pacquiao lead UNA launch; Erap Estrada a no-show
Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) party was officially launched on Wednesday before thousands of supporters in Makati, the city of his political origins.
Binay assumed chairmanship of the newly formed political party. He was to address the crowd from a glowing red lectern shaped like the number 1, resembling the digit found in the UNA logo.
Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco was formally elected UNA president, Sen. Gregorio Honasan the vice president, JV Bautista the secretary general, and former finance secretary Gary Teves treasurer.
In attendance were Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, former senator Ernesto Maceda, former Zambales representative Mitos Magsaysay, and incumbent UNA lawmakers, including Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao.
Binay’s son, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay, who was forced to step down on the strength of a suspension order by the Ombudsman, appeared some minutes after the program started.
He waved to the crowd and was met by cheers inside the 3,000-seat auditorium, which was filled to capacity.
But the loudest cheers were reserved for arguably UNA’s most famous member: Pacquiao. “May karapatan naman tayong pumili ng nasa puso natin (We have a right to choose who’s in our heart),” he told reporters when asked if he was afraid of reprisal by the administration.
He said he was still in the process of deciding whether to run for senator.
Asked if he would campaign for Binay, Pacquiao was evasive: “Depende ‘yan, ‘di pa napag-uusapan. Nandito ako para suportahan ang deklarasyon ng party (That depends. We have not talked about that. I am here to support the party declarations).”
Notably absent was former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, one of the three pillars of UNA, along with Binay and detained Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.
Binay spokesperson Mon Ilagan said the former President had a prior engagement, but also acknowledged that the latter was “contemplating” a number of issues, such as possibly supporting Sen. Grace Poe, the daughter of the late Fernando Poe Jr., or running for President again himself.
The atmosphere was festive, a cacophony of drums and cymbals filling the air and stage lights flickering all around the auditorium.
Makati residents, and UNA members from the provinces, turned up in droves and by the busload, many wearing campaign shirts bearing Binay’s name and slogans.
Ilagan said Binay’s speech, which he was to deliver later in the afternoon, would be “not as fiery as before.”
“What you will hear now are the programs, the vision, the plans, of UNA as a political party,” he said. “The speech of the VP will have a more positive theme this time.”
But Ilagan said Binay would likely raise the issues involving the suspension of his son, and his camp’s contention that they were the subjects of political persecution. IDL
Originally posted at 04:19 pm | July 1, 2015
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.