CEBU CITY, Philippines – Even as he continues his search for a running mate come 2016, administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II made an apparent swipe at opposition standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay who is also still narrowing down his choices for vice president.
“At palagay ko isa sa pinakamahalaga at revealing na desisyon ng kahit sinong standard-bearer ang pagpili ng kanyang ka-tandem (To me, the choice of a running-mate is one of the most important and revealing decisions a standard-bearer can make)," he told reporters on the sidelines of a gathering of supporters in Cebu City on Monday, August 14.
Roxas explained the process he's going through: "Is this political convenience? Is this you scratch my back, I scratch yours? Is this simply geographic balance or are there principles, are there basic, fundamental programs of government na pinapaniwalaan ng dalawa (that both believe in)."
Roxas was being asked whether he was still banking on convincing neophyte senator and survey front runner Grace Poe to be his vice president in 2016.
Binay, who was also in Cebu on the same day as Roxas and Poe, is including former political rivals in his list of possible running mate if only to bring together groups that are opposed to the current administration. Among the choices for Binay are Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and former senator Panfilo Lacson.
The Vice President fought against the regime of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Senator Marcos’ father. Santiago was also once a vocal critic of Binay.
In contrast, Roxas said, he is looking for a running mate who wants to run not just because of party affiliations or political history but because they both believe in the “Daang Matuwid,” the current administration’s tagline for its transparency, good governance, and anti-corruption platform.
Roxas and the ruling LP have been wooing Poe to be their vice president but the senator seems to be keen on launching her own presidential bid with her friend Senator Francis Escudero as her vice president.
Poe was also in Cebu province on Monday, doing radio interviews and speaking before students at the University of San Carlos.
Binay’s boat ‘sinking?’
Swipes directed towards Binay have been commonplace in Roxas’ and even President Benigno Aquino III’s recent speeches.
Speaking before thousands of supporters at the Cebu Coliseum, Aquino and Roxas each made subtle and not-so-subtle mentions of the opposition leader, who was once part of the Cabinet.
“Alam nating habang gumugulong ang momentum natin, magiging doble kayod ang mga kalaban natin para sirain ang tiwala natin sa isa't isa. Wala naman silang ibang magagawa. Hanggang ngayon, nandiyan ang mga alegasyon at mga kaso sa katiwalian. Dahil butas-butas na nga ang kanilang bangka, ang game plan nila ay itaob ang bangka natin—pare-pareho na lang tayong lulubog,” Roxas said, an obvious swipe at Binay, who has been the subject of a year-long Senate probe into allegations of corruption during his time as Makati mayor.
(We know that as we build momentum, our enemies will also intensify efforts to ruin our trust with each other. They have no other choice. Until now, allegations and cases of corruption against them persist. And because their boat is sinking, the game plan is to sink our own boat so we all sink.)
Aquino himself hit Binay during his speech, criticizing him for his hypocrisy.
"Pero huwag po natin kalimutan, hindi lahat ng naghahangad pumalit sa atin, kasama natin sa Daang Matuwid. Sa kabilang banda, meron din namang klarong-klaro na ang pinagsasasabi ay taliwas sa Daang Matuwid; na sabi nga po ng iba ay tila nagsamantala lang sa pakikisama sa Daang Matuwid. Dagdag pa nila, ‘yun daw limang taon niyang pinapalakpakan, ngayon tinatawag na niyang palpak. Ang tanong nga: Kailan ba siya naging totoo, sa limang taon ng pagpuri, o bukas makalawa pa dahil hanggang sa ngayon hindi pa yata makatotoo ang sinasabi?" said the President.
(Let us not forget, not everyone who wants to replace me are our companions in Daang Matuwid. There are those who are clearly contrary to the Daang Matuwid; what they saying is clearly using Daang Matuwid for their advantage. And now they are saying that the same 5 years where he clapped alongside us were also 5 years of failure. I wonder: When was he ever true to his words, in those 5 years or has the truth yet to come because to this day, it seems like he is still lying.)
Binay was the early front-runner in presidential preference surveys but slid down to second during the last one, amid allegations that he pocketed city funds and used it for his campaign.
The Vice President had earlier hoped to bag Aquino’s endorsement but this was shot down by the President himself. The leader and founder of the United Nationalist Alliance once "offered" Roxas to be his running-mate. The LP president-on-leave promptly shot this down as well. (READ: Roxas as Binay’s VP? 'I won’t ally with the corrupt')
Repeating appeals he has made in trips to different provinces in the Philippines, Roxas called on supporters in Cebu to “join his journey.” “Matatag at dakila ang sinasakyan nating bangka (The boat we are on is sturdy and steadfast),” he said.
“Gaano ba kalayo ang kayang marating ng iisang taong may iisang bangka at iisang sagwan? Kung pagsasama-samahin natin ang ating lakas, walang dudang mararating natin ang mas maunlad at mas masaganang Pilipinas,” he added.
(How far can one person with one boat and one paddle go? If we bring together all our strengths, I have no doubt that it will result in a stronger, better Philippines.)
Asked if he was still actively trying to convince Poe, Roxas said he “already did what [he] could” but was still “open.” He added, however, that he has an “obligation” to form a “strong” tandem for the administration slate.
“All of those things will happen naturally. Hindi naman kailangan na i-kalburo yan, hindi naman kailangan na madaliin yan. Pero hindi naman dapat na i-delay iyan (There is no need to rush it. But we also cannot delay),” he told reporters.
Is he already looking for “other options” for the vice president? “Sa amin na lang muna iyan ng Pangulo (I’d rather keep that between the President and myself),” he said.
Roxas and the LP are said to be eyeing Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo and Batangas Governor Vilma Santos. The two, however, have already said they were not keen on the second-highest elected post in the land. – Rappler.com