MANILA, Philippines – Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago described him as an iconoclast or a person who destroys religious images or attacks traditional ideas or institutions. Now, Navotas Rep Tobias “Toby” Tiangco will be in charge of putting to order the affairs of the newly formed United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
In a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, April 24, top leaders of UNA or the coalition headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay and former President Joseph Estrada formed its core executive committee and designated officers.
Binay’s partymate, Sen Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III told Rappler that Tiangco was chosen to be secretary-general of UNA.
UNA is a coalition between Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP). Tiangco is a member of PMP.
Pimentel, president of PDP-Laban, said the UNA leaders also formed the group’s core executive committee to be composed of Binay, Estrada, and PMP chairman Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
Lawyer as spokesman
PDP-Laban’s executive director, lawyer JV Bautista, was chosen to be UNA spokesperson.
Asked about Tiangco’s job description, Pimentel said the congressman will be in charge of the UNA headquarters, logistics, “lahat ng dapat isipin.” (Everything that has to be thought of.)
The two-hour lunch meeting was held in Binay’s office at the Coconut Palace in Pasay and was kept under wraps.
Tiangco and Bautista could not be reached as of posting time.
Tiangco recently made headlines for testifying for the defense in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. He told the impeachment court that Corona’s impeachment was railroaded. He also said that the Aquino administration used pork barrel to sway lawmakers to vote to impeach then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
The lawmaker drew attention not just for his controversial statements, but his hairstyle also brought comic relief to the trial. Santiago told him, “Your haircut alone, it indicates that you are an iconoclast.” (Read: Mane Attraction: Tiangco vs Quimbo)
‘Don’t accept Migz’
Pimentel said the first UNA meeting was informal, mostly for chit-chat and to ask how each is doing.
“You will be disappointed, there was nothing earthshaking,” he said.
Pimentel refused to discuss other details of the meeting.
Yet he later told reporters that he asked Sen Jinggoy Estrada not to welcome former Bukidnon Rep Juan Miguel Zubiri as a member of PMP. Estrada is one of the leaders of PMP.
Zubiri is among the names being considered to be part of the UNA senatorial slate. Binay’s camp has said having Zubiri on board will increase the representation of Mindanao in the Senate.
Pimentel though opposes his inclusion in the slate. The senator filed an electoral protest against Zubiri over the 2007 senatorial elections. He was only able to assume his seat last year, when the Senate Electoral Tribunal declared him the winner of the protest. Zubiri resigned days before that.
Zubiri, however, said he has no problem being in the same slate with Pimentel.
Zubiri used to be a member of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Lakas-Kampi party but has since resigned. – Rappler.com