Why was Erap a no-show at Binay's party launch?

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former president now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada clarified that his absence from the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) launch on Wednesday, July 1, should not be misconstrued as his refusal to support the candidacy of Vice President Binay, his running mate in 2010. (READ: Erap snubs Binay’s UNA launch)

He repeated a previous statement, however, that he was torn between Binay and Senator Grace Poe should she decide to seek the presidency in 2016.

“Pag-aaralan ko kung sino ang susuportahan ko sa dalawa. 'Yung isa kumpare ko, 'yung isa inaanak ko. Up to now, tinitingnan ko kung sino ang makakatulong sa nakakarami,” he told ANC. 

(I’m still studying who I would support between the two. One is my friend, the other is my goddaughter. Up to now, I have to see who can be of help to the majority of our people.)

WHO WILL ERAP ENDORSE? The former president says he will go for whoever will continue his programs when he was in Malacau00f1ang, a stay cut short by 4 years after he was impeached in 2001. Photo by Vincent Bascos/Rappler

WHO WILL ERAP ENDORSE? The former president says he will go for whoever will continue his programs when he was in Malacau00f1ang, a stay cut short by 4 years after he was impeached in 2001.

Photo by Vincent Bascos/Rappler

In an interview with Manila city hall reporters later in the day, he said he will endorse the presidential candidate who will continue his aborted programs when he was President. Estrada was forced to leave Malacañang in 2001 after only two years in office.

Estrada heads the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), which initially aligned with Vice President Binay's former party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) to form UNA in the 2013 senatorial elections.

On whether he supports UNA, Estrada said he would have to study and review the platform of government espoused by the party. 

Binay had earlier floated Estrada as his possible running mate, an "offer" that surprised the former president, who is bent on seeking re-election in Manila.  (READ: Erap surprised by Binay's VP offer)

Estrada denied on Wednesday that he skipped UNA launch because wasn’t feeling well. He pointed out that he had, in fact, a lot of commitments that day. For one, he graced the 75th anniversary of the Manila Health Department.

JV not my representative

Responding to questions, Estrada said he was not aware that his son, Senator JV Ejercito attended the UNA launch. He said the senator did not inform him about it, nor did he send him there as his representative.

Like his father, Ejercito is also torn between supporting Binay or Poe. (READ: JV Ejercito 'endorses' Grace Poe)

At the time, Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Neal Cruz wrote that Estrada had categorically stated that while it would be a “difficult” decision, he would ditch Binay and endorse Poe should the two run for president in 2016.

Estrada had explained then that he would choose the senator over Binay because she is the daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr, his best friend who was more than a brother to him. Estrada said then that campaigning for the younger Poe would be his way of "repaying" her father. 

Poe is currently leading in surveys on voter's preference for president, dislodging early front runner Binay who is now at second place. Poe is also the top choice for vice president, based on the results of the latest surveys. 

Will Estrada run for president?

The former president, whose showing in surveys remain strong, said he is not inclined to seek the highest post again, but will let destiny take its course.

“Si Binay na ang standard bearer for the opposition, so I’m not running anymore, but we’ll see. Sino ba standard-bearer ng Liberal Party nung 2010, si Mar Roxas, di ba? See, nothing happened. He gave way to Senator Noynoy Aquino. It’s all providential, so we’ll see, ” Estrada said.

(Binay is alreadu the standard-bearer for the opposition, so I’m not running anymore, but we’ll see. Who was the standard-bearer for the Liberal Party in 2010, wasn't it Mar Roxas? See, it didn't push through. He gave way to Senator Noynoy Aquino. It’s all providential, so we’ll see.) – with a report from Vincent Bascos/Rappler.com