MANILA, Philippines – “Hindi nakakalimutan ni Presidente Aquino na during his darkest hour, ang kasama niya ang ama ko.” (President Aquino has not forgotten that during his darkest hour, he was with my father.)”
This is how Senator Nancy Binay interpreted President Benigno Aquino III’s statement in his State of the Nation Address (SONA), recalling the time he was ambushed in 1987 with her father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, as his companion.
Asked if the statement was an expression of support for her father’s presidential bid in 2016, Binay said her father is not actively seeking Aquino’s endorsement but will not turn it down either.
‘Yung mindset ng father ko ngayon, para sa kanya, magtrabaho muna tayo pare-pareho. Tsaka na lang natin intindihin kung mai-endorse siya o hindi. Kasi, unang-una, may sarilli naman kasi kaming partido. Kumbaga, icing na lang sa cake yung ma-endorse pa siya ng Pangulo,” Binay said in a press briefing on Thursday, July 31.
(The mindset of my father now is to just keep working. He is not thinking of endorsements but it will be icing [on the cake] if the President endorses him.)
While the Vice President is leading surveys for the 2016 presidential polls, his daughter said an endorsement from Aquino will boost his chances in the elections.
“Lahat ng tulong kailangan eh. Wala namang mawawala kung ma-endorso siya ng pangulo. Politics is addition. (He needs all the help he can get. He won’t lose anything if the President endorses him.)”
The President used a conciliatory tone in his SONA toward the elder Binay, leader and founder of the opposition coalition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
Critics have pointed out that the Vice President is in an “awkward” political position, being leader of the opposition while expressing support for Aquino and being a member of his Cabinet at the same time.
Aquino’s ruling Liberal Party (LP) has yet to declare a candidate but speculation is rife it will be Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Binay’s bitter rival.
Yet the Vice President and her daughter have not ruled out a coalition with the administration in a country with a weak political party system.
“Kasi nga in politics ‘di ba, anything is possible. So marami pang mangyayari from now till 2016. ‘Di ba nga lahat possible, pero ang percentage na mangyayari iyon, iyon ang ‘di ko sigurado,” said Senator Binay.
(Isn’t it that in politics, anything is possible? So there are many things that can happen from now until 2016. But the percentage of that happening, that is what I cannot be sure of.)
The elder Binay has said he is open to being the administration candidate, but it should be the administration coalition that should align with the opposition, not the other way around.
Echoing her father, Senator Binay said her family’s ties with the Aquino clan remain strong even if they are on opposite sides of the political fence.
“Ang relasyon ng Binay-Aquino, it goes beyond politics. Our relationship goes beyond politics,” Senator Binay said.
Vice President Binay was a supporter of the President’s late mother, Corazon C. Aquino, who appointed him officer-in-charge mayor of Makati in 1986 during her presidency. The two were together in the anti-Marcos struggle.
Palace mum on Aquino ‘endorsement’
Malacañang, however would neither confirm nor deny the speculation that Aquino may be considering the Vice President as the administration standard-bearer in 2016, based on Binay’s special mention in the President’s 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Asked about the speculation in a news briefing, Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a news briefing on Thursday that the administration’s attention will not be diverted from fulfilling its promises to the people.
“Ang focus ng Pangulo at ng pamahalaan ay ang pagpapatupad ng mga ipinangakong reporma at paghahatid ng serbisyo publiko sa nalalabing 23 buwan ng administrasyon. Hindi pinagtutuunan ng pansin ang usaping pampulitika,” Coloma said.
(The focus of the President and the government is on fulfilling the promised reforms and delivery of public service in the administration’s remaining 23 months [in office]. It will not pay any attention to political issues.)
Cayetano ad copycat?
Senator Binay also fielded questions about her father’s rival in 2016, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano of the Nacionalista Party.
Cayetano released a political ad highlighting the services of Taguig, much like the 2010 campaign ads of Binay showing his supposed achievements as mayor of Makati, the country’s financial center.
In contrast to the Makati ad, Cayetano’s ad had the tagline, “Sa Taguig, bawal ang korap (In Taguig, the corrupt are banned),” in apparent reference to corruption allegations against Binay.
“I guess it’s up to the viewers to decide if they feel he copied the ad of Makati,” Binay said. “The difference is that in the ad of Makati, my dad was mayor then. Senator Alan has no personality in Taguig. He is not the mayor of Taguig.”
Cayetano’s wife, Lani, is the current mayor of Taguig. The senator was representative of the district.
Binay clarified though that she is not familiar with the concept of Cayetano’s ad.
“I am not questioning if it was appropriate. I am only saying that my father was mayor of Makati and his ad showed his achievements. ‘Ganito kami sa Makati (This is how we are in Makati)’ because he was part of making Makati [into] what it is now. In Taguig, I don’t know because he (Cayetano) is not the mayor.”
Binay responded to Cayetano’s persistent criticism that her father might pardon his allies Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada in the pork barrel corruption case if he wins as president in 2016.
“We’ll cross the bridge when we get there,” was Senator Binay’s only answer.
With the political climate heating up two years before the polls, Binay revealed what she called her “greatest fear.”
“If [our political rivals] become desperate, I hope they will not harm my family. In Makati, we have allies who were ambushed when elections were near. I hope they don’t do that to my family,” Binay said.
The senator added that she gets nervous every time presidential surveys come out. “Because the rivals of our family will exert double, triple efforts to bring down the numbers [of my father].”
It was an obvious reference to plunder and graft cases filed against her relatives, which the Binays dismiss as “politically motivated.”
Still, the Vice President’s eldest daughter said she is unsure what role she will play in her father’s campaign.
Binay added that at home where they still live in the same compound, her relationship with her father is personal, not political.
“Inuutusan niya ako, ‘Uy, ang barong ko ha.’ Sabi ko nga, ‘Dad ah, ang taga-kuha ninyo ng tubig, senador pa.’ Sa bahay, anak ako doon, ‘di ako senador,” she quipped.(He orders me, “Fix my barong.” I tell him, “Dad, the person who gets water for you is a senator.’ At home, I am just a daughter. I am not a senator.) – Rappler.com