MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay may lose another endorser for his 2016 bid after ally Senator JV Ejercito declared his “secret” support for Senator Grace Poe.
Ejercito made the statement at the Philippine Independence Day flag raising ceremony at Pinaglabanan, San Juan, on Friday, June 12, where Poe, a San Juan resident and registered voter, was guest of honor and speaker.
“Kung mangyayari na naisin ng ating panauhing pandangal ang paglahok sa pambansang halalan sa susunod na taon, ngayon pa lamang at gusto kong ipabatid ko sa inyo na dahil sa prinsipyo at paninidigan na aking nakita sa ating pagsasama sa Senado, ako ay inyong maaasahan, secret lang. Nagkakaintindihan na tayo, kapatid,” he said.
(If our guest of honor decides to run in the national elections next year, as early as now, I wish to let you know that because of her principle and conviction that I witnessed in our time in the Senate, I can be depended on – though secretly. We understand each other.)
Not official yet
Asked whether he is endorsing Poe, Ejercito replied in a text message to Rappler, “Not officially and formally [supporting Grace] yet.”
On the “secret” endorsement he announced at the San Juan event, Ejercito said, “Secret nga eh! (It’s a secret!)”
He recognized the difficulty he faces in choosing between Binay and Poe should the latter decide to run for president.
“I have to admit that it will be a difficult decision to choose between the two. VP Binay has been a longtime ally and we fought GMA’s (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s) admin together for several years,” he said.
Ejercito’s father, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, found himself mulling over the same predicament in December 2014. Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Neal Cruz wrote then that Estrada had categorically said while it would be a “difficult” decision, he would ditch Binay and endorse Poe should the two run for president in 2016.
On the support he would give Poe, Ejercito said, “Senator Grace is a personal friend, my kinakapatid, and my kumare. We went on separate ways during the campaign. But even if we belong to different parties, in the Senate we worked well together especially with FOI (Freedom of Information). We often cross party lines regarding issues.”
He added, “In short, it will be hard to discount the fact that we worked well as colleagues.”
In an interview with reporters after the event, Poe thanked Ejercito for the “endorsement,” but said she has not made up her mind on a presidential bid as this involves careful deliberation. Poe is being eyed as a running mate to Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, although she already said she wouldn’t join Roxas’ Liberal Party.
In his speech, Ejercito also apologized on behalf of his friends, apparently referring to UNA officials Navotas Representative Tobias Tiangco and JV Bautista, who had brought up the residency and citizenship issues against Poe.
“Nais kong ihingi ng paumanhin sa inyo at sa ating senadora ang ating mga kaibigan. Marahil hindi sila nabigyan ng mabuting payo.” (I wish to apologize to all of you and our lady senator on behalf of our friends. Apparently, they were not given the proper advice.)
He added that there is nothing wrong with being adopted, especially when the child has grown up to become an exemplary citizen.
“Walang masama sa pagiging ampon; lalo nang hindi ito kasalanan. Sabi ko nga, mabuti pa siya, kahit na ampon, binigyan ng karalangan ang pangalan ng kanyang mga kinikilalang magulang. May ilan sa atin, hindi nga ampon, tunay na anak, ay binigyan naman ng kahihiyan ang pangalan ng magulang,” Ejercito said.
(There’s nothing wrong with bring adopted; it’s not a sin. Good for her [Poe], even if she’s adopted, she brought honor to the name of her adoptive parents. There are some biological children who have brought shame to the names of their parents.)
Binay respects Aquino ‘non-endorsement’
Meanwhile, the Vice President said he respects the statement of President Benigno Aquino III that he is not inclined to endorse his presidential candidacy.
Binay had said that his hope is to be “secretly supported” by the President, just as some Aquino allies had supported his vice presidential bid in 2010 and not Aquino’s running mate, Manuel Roxas II.
After leading the Independence Day rites at the Luneta, Binay said in an interview with reporters: “Nasabi na ni Pangulo. Galangin natin (The President has spoken. Let’s respect it).”
Asked what kind of support he would seek from Aquino, Binay said: “Wala na, tapos na ‘yun. May ‘sinagot na si Pangulo (No more. That’s over and done with. The President has given his answer).”
Manila Mayor Estrada, who was at the Luneta event, indicated that he’s not keen on running for vice president as he believes Manila needs him more. Binay had broached the idea of tandem. (READ: Binay-Estrada for 2016?)
“Marami pang gagawin sa ating Lungsod ng Maynila (There’s still a lot to be done in Manila),” he said.
Estrada added: “I’ve been there (vice presidency). Tama na ‘yun, tapos na ako roon. Dito ako sa Maynila isinilang, dito rin ako sa Maynila sumikat bilang artista. Malaki ang kailangang [gawin] para sa mga taga-Maynila para makaganti naman ako ng utang na loob sa mga Manileño.”
(That’s enough; I’m done with that. I was born in Manila, I also rose to stardom in Manila. I still have a lot to do for the people of Manila to repay by debt of gratitude to them). – with reports from Ayee Macaraig/Rappler.com