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Binay, Roxas say 'peace' before Cardinal Tagle

RIVAL BETS. Former interior secretary Manuel Roxas II and Vice President Jejomar Binay, both presidential candidates, sit on the same pew during a Mass presided over by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on May 2, 2016.

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Seated just a few feet away from each other, Vice President Jejomar Binay and former interior secretary Manuel Roxas II had no choice on Monday, May 2, but to exchange a sign of peace.

It's not that they've become the best of friends. They're still the bitterest of rivals vying for the highest post in government. (READ: The Scrum: Roxas, Binay, and the political machine)

Binay and Roxas, however, attended a covenant signing for honest elections, led by no less than Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. They sat in the first row of the Manila Cathedral, right in front of the cardinal.

Among the 5 presidential candidates, only the two of them joined the event. Poe, who was in Tarlac, said on Monday that she plans to sign the covenant, too.

The covenant is called TRUTH, standing for "Truthful, Responsible, Upright, Transparent, and Honest" elections. In a news release, Catholic Church-run Radio Veritas described this as "spiritual preparation" for the May 9 polls.

Monday's event was held in partnership with the Commission on Elections, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, Task Force Eleksyon 2016, Huwag Kang Magnakaw Movement, and Pilipino Movement for Transformational Leadership.

The covenant signing was held after a Mass presided over by Tagle at around 9 am.

During the Mass, Roxas' wife Korina Sanchez-Roxas and Binay's daughter Nancy sat in the middle of the two candidates.

Binay and Roxas interacted during the part of the Mass when Catholics exchange a sign of peace, usually telling the people beside them, "Peace be with you."

During this part of the Mass, Binay was seen gesturing to his daughter to turn to the Roxas couple. 

It was then that Binay and Roxas shook hands.

The two shook hands again upon signing the covenant after the Mass.

COVENANT SIGNED. Vice President Jejomar Binay and former interior secretary Manuel Roxas II shake hands for the second time on May 2, 2016, after signing a covenant for honest elections.

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Seating arrangement unexpected

In an interview with reporters, Nancy Binay admitted it was awkward for her father to be seated near Roxas.

She said they didn't expect this seating arrangement.

"Noong umpisa lang naman 'yung medyo awkward. But I guess, 'di ba nasa Misa ka, and 'pag nakinig ka doon sa homily parang nawala na lahat 'yun. Kaya nakita 'nyo naman pagdating doon sa 'peace be with you,' kami pa 'yung lumapit sa kanila," the senator said.

(At the start it was awkward. But I guess, isn't it that when you're at Mass, and when you listen to the homily, it all dissipates. So as you saw, when we reached the 'peace be with you' portion, it was the two of us who approached them.)

Other national candidates attended the covenant signing on Monday.

Among vice presidential bets, Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Leni Robredo was represented by her niece, Gaile Robredo-Vitas.

Senatorial candidates such as Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros, Isko Moreno, and Vicente Sotto III were also present. 

During the event, Tagle urged candidates to study the real needs of the people. 

"At 'yan lalagpas na sa party politics dahil ang pag-uusapan na diyan ay ang common good," the cardinal said.

(We will then transcend party politics, because when you study the real needs of the people, the discussions will be about the common good.)

He added that being a candidate in itself is already a blessing.

Tagle said: "Kung kayo po ay pagkakatiwalaan ng bayan at mahalal bilang kinatawan ng pangarap ng Pilipino, kinatawan ng common good, wow. You are blessed."

(If the people place their trust in you, and you are elected to fulfill the dreams of Filipinos, to fight for the common good, wow. You are blessed.) – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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