‘VP Binay will never leave Aquino’s side’

Bea Cupin
‘VP Binay will never leave Aquino’s side’
'My father was willing to stake his life. Pwede siyang mamatay para sa pamilyang Aquino and nothing has changed. He will take a bullet for the Aquino family,' says Makati Mayor Junjun Binay

MANILA, Philippines – They’re being pitted against each other in the runoff to the 2016 elections, but as far as Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay is concerned, his father Vice President Jejomar Binay will never be one to leave President Benigno Aquino III’s side.

In a Monday, August 18 interview on ANC’s Headstart, the younger Binay said neither his father nor the family take it against Aquino when they clash on certain issues. Aquino leads the Liberal Party (LP) while Binay is a founding member of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

“My father is there for the President. He may not share the same thoughts with the President on certain matters, but my father will never leave the side of President Aquino,” said the Makati mayor.

The elder Binay is the clear leader in early presidential polls. The LP’s perceived standard-bearer, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, lags behind in similar polls. (READ: Mar Roxas: ‘I’ll support whomever Aquino chooses in 2016’)

‘Closeness’ of two families

Although they stand on different sides of the political fence, the Binays and Aquinos share a rich history. Binay was appointed Makati’s officer-in-charge mayor when the late former president Cory Aquino assumed the presidency in 1986.

That appointment launched Binay’s political career.

The younger Binay said his president proved to a loyal friend and supporter to the older Aquino. “Sino ang nagprotect sa kanila noong papunta ng Club Filipino (Who protected them on their way to Club Filipino)? Who was with them during the coup d’etat? It was my father,” said Binay.

“My father was willing to stake his life. Puwede siyang mamatay para sa pamilyang Aquino (He was willing to die for the Aquino family) and nothing has changed. He will take a bullet for the Aquino family,” he added.

During the interview, the younger Binay spoke of another, less-known moment shared by the two families.

It was 5 years ago when the elder Aquino was confined at the Makati Medical Center following complications due to cancer. Around the same time, Mayor Binay’s wife Ann Lacia was confined in the same hospital.

“I was tasked to do something for the family. I took her out, si Tita Cory, without anyone noticing that she was out of the building,” said Binay.

Aquino would die on August 1, 2009; Mayor Binay’s wife followed 10 days after.

“I’m just telling you this because of the closeness of both families. Hindi naman i-e-entrust sa akin na ilabas si Tita Cory kung hindi rin naman nagtitiwala sa amin ang pamilya,” he added. (The Aquino family would not entrust Tita Cory to me if they didn’t trust our family.)

Not a ‘yes man’

Recently, Binay and the President’s Liberal Party has been issuing and denying statements in the media, concerning alleged movements for 2016.

Binay told reporters during an event for the late Cory Aquino that he had heard from “credible sources” that the LP was thinking of either adopting him as its standard bearer in 2016, or teaming up with his United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

LP stalwarts have repeatedly denied this claim. Aquino’s sisters also reportedly said they were open to endorsing Binay. It was something the President himself later denied, saying his sisters were only forced by media to make a statement.

Still, the Vice President insisted that an alliance between the ruling party and the opposition party was “still possible.”

No matter what happens, the younger Binay insisted there was nothing amiss between his father and the President. On the issue of charter change, for instance, the two share different views. Binay is against changing the Constitution in order to allow the Philippine president to run for a second term.

Previously against charter change, Aquino recently admitted he had a change of heart.

Ayaw niya yun but it doesn’t mean ayaw niya kay President Aquino. Sabi niya lang niya, ‘Hindi ako yes man. I will speak my mind, I will tell the President that it’s wrong or right,’” said Binay. (He doesn’t support charter change, allowing the president to run for a second term,  but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t support President Aquino. He’s just saying, “I’m not a yes man.”)

Binay added a second presidential term would not be good for the late Cory Aquino’s legacy. “I’m sure she will not allow this.” – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.