A peeved Binay, plus Bicol politics
MANILA, Philippines - They were together in one social gathering. They had just recently coalesced for the 2013 election races. But on Monday night, sharing the same table with former President Erap Estrada, Vice President Jejomar snubbed former Sen Ernesto Maceda.
"Binay ignored Maceda the entire time that they were at the table," quips our source who was at a testimonial dinner for Erap in Taguig on Monday, April 16 (the former president will be turning 75 years old on Thursday, April 19).
The Vice President has reason to get peeved. On Saturday, April 14, Maceda, who belongs to the United Nationalist Alliance of Estrada and Binay, told media what was previously only whispered about: that a vote in favor of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona is a vote for Binay.
The Vice President has consistently distanced himself from the Coronal trial, raising speculations that he's working behind the scenes for Corona's acquittal. This seems logical. Any presidential wannabe would prefer appointing his own man -- or woman -- as chief justice. Corona is retiring in 2018 yet, or 2 years after the 2016 presidential elections. But if Corona is convicted in the ongoing impeachment trial against him, President Aquino has the option of appointing a chief justice who could stay in that position far longer than the next president.
Anyway, back to Maceda. Estrada himself came to Binay's rescue and denied Maceda's claim that Binay stands to benefit from a Corona acquittal. “That’s not true. I don’t think so. I believe the Vice President is not interfering in that impeachment trial. Maybe that’s only the political analysis of some people," he told reporters Monday.
As if that wasn't not enough, Estrada ribbed Maceda that night. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m not ready for any controversial questions. [For] anything controversial, we have Senator Maceda here to answer it.”
Yet another province in Bicol?
Just recently, Camarines Sur Rep Arnulfo Fuentebella said he has been assured by the Commission on Elections and the budget department of sufficient funds to hold a plebiscite for yet another province in the Bicol region -- Nueva Camarines (NuevaCam). Fuentebella is the main proponent of House Bill 4820 which seeks to create a new province out of Camarines Sur.
This is yet another form of gerrymandering. Fuentebella wants a separate province for his allies, who include Rolando Andaya, Dato Arroyo and Luis Villafuerte Sr -- all Arroyo loyalists.
Villafuerte Sr is planning to run for governor of the proposed NuevaCam province. His son and political enemy, Camarines Sur Gov L-Ray Villafuerte, is opposing the move. The third-termer governor is banned from re-election next year, and there are reports he plans to challenge Dato Arroyo for Congress.
But first things first. Does the planned new province even qualify to become one? Does it meet population and land area requirements? Recall that in 2010, a new district formed in Camarines Sur was allegedly approved by Congress even if it failed to meet the population requirement. That new district was created under the Arroyo years -- reportedly to give Andaya political space and keep him from slugging it out with Dato Arroyo for Congress.