MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The estranged brother of administration stalwart Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad joined Vice President Jejomar Binay's party on Monday, September 14, saying there was nothing personal in him joining a party opposed to his brother's.
Nicanor Abad, elder brother of the Aquino administration's budget secretary, took his oath as an UNA member on at the Coconut Palace, the Vice President's office.
Nicanor Abad, an engineer, was among the 18 politicians from Batanes who swore their oath before Binay, along with Batanes Governor Vicente Gato. They were joined by 5 other supporters who swore their oath as well.
According to Nicanor Abad, there is “no personal reason” behind him running under the opposition party.
“Iba ang paniniwala niya. Iba ang paniniwala ko (He has his own beliefs and I have mine),” said Nicanor Abad.
Asked why they joined the opposition party, Gato said it is because they believe in Binay and what UNA stands for.
“[We joined UNA] because we believe the Vice President is a humble person, a good person, and ‘yung programa niya, makataong-bayan (and his program is for the people),” Gato told reporters.
UNA spokesman Mon Ilagan said that Nicanor Abad joined UNA through Gato, who also had a falling out with the Florencio Abad's family.
"All those who believe UNA's platforms and programs are all welcome. It's no longer an issue for us if he is a brother or relative of an officer from the administration party. After all, the Vice President reiterated that he will be a healing and unifying president. Butch Abad's brother joining UNA is a welcome development," Ilagan said.
Secretary Abad is a stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) and a close adviser and ally of President Benigno Aquino III and his chosen successor, resigned Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II. In 2010, Abad was the campaign manager of the Aquino-Roxas ticket.
The budget secretary said his brother will run against the secretary's wife, Batanes Representative Henedina Abad, in the 2016 polls. Representative Abad is running for re-election in the lone congressional district.
"Sometimes blood is not thicker than water. He is my elder brother who lived for the most part of his life in the US,” Secretary Abad said in a text message.
“In 2004, he came home and decided to run against Dina for the lone congressional district in Batanes. Now he's back to challenge her again,” he added.
The Abads are a politically influential family hailing from Batanes. Florencio's and Dina's daughter, Julia, is the head of the Presidential Management Staff of Aquino. Their son, Luis, is a former chief of staff of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.
In 2013, Representative Abad won a “hairline victory” over independent candidate Carlo Diasnes to retain her seat.
Batanes is a small province of about 10,000 voters. Dina Abad then got 3,813 votes while Diasnes got 3,676 votes.
New UNA members
UNA will be fielding the following candidates for the local elections in Batanes in 2016:
The following also took part in the oath-taking on Monday: Lawyer Bryon San Pedro, Aurora Caballero, Apolinario S. Fernandez, Honesto P. Gutierrez, and Marlene Tabuso-Gato.
After the Batanes group, 10 politicians from Lian, Batangas also swore as UNA members in the Coconut Palace.
They will be running for the following positions in 2016: