MANILA, Philippines – The historic Club Filipino in San Juan will again witness a major political development this week.
Former President Joseph Estrada will welcome into his party resigned Sen Juan Miguel Zubiri and Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno. The two will take their oath as members of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) on Thursday, May 3.
The ceremony will be held in the same venue where President Benigno Aquino III announced his presidential bid in 2009 and where his mother, former President Corazon Aquino, was inaugurated.
In an interview with Rappler, PMP Secretary-General and Navotas Rep Tobias “Toby” Tiangco said Sen Jinggoy Estrada called him to prepare for the oath-taking.
Tiangco said top party leaders like the Estradas and Senate President Juan Ponce will be present in the oath-taking.
“I think from the way I understand it, Sen Zubiri really wanted to join the senatorial slate of the Vice President [Jejomar Binay], which is UNA. Now since he knows the discussion is we will not coalesce with any other party, his choice is to join one of the parties, which is PDP and PMP.”
Tiangco added, “He will be a very welcome addition.”
UNA stands for the United Nationalist Alliance, a coalition between PMP and Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) for the 2013 elections.
Zubiri was a member of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Lakas-Kampi while Moreno used to be part of the Nacionalista Party of Sen Manny Villar.
In spite of Koko’s opposition
It appears that the PMP leadership welcomed Zubiri despite reservations from the leader of its coalition partner, Sen Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III. Pimentel is president of PDP-Laban.
Last week, Pimentel told reporters that he asked Sen Estrada not to accept Zubiri as a member of PMP.
Zubiri is being eyed as an UNA senatorial candidate. Yet Pimentel opposes his inclusion in the ticket. Pimentel is also running for senator next year.
Pimentel filed an electoral protest against Zubiri over the 2007 elections. In August 2011, Zubiri resigned from the Senate days before the Senate Electoral Tribunal declared Pimentel the winner of the protest.
Tiangco told Rappler that as early as January 2012, Zubiri told him in three social gatherings that he would like to join PMP. Tiangco is also secretary-general of UNA. (Read: Iconoclast is sec-gen of Erap-Binay coalition)
“Isa lang ang sagot ko sa kanya, ‘Alam mo, Migz, ako sundalo lang ako. Kausapin mo ang mga boss sa taas.” (I gave him only one answer, ‘You know, Migz, I’m just a soldier. You talk to the bosses.)
The oath-taking shows the PMP bosses approved of Zubiri.
Tiangco said the rift between Zubiri and Pimentel will have to be resolved by the UNA leadership. UNA’s executive committee consists of Binay, Estrada and Enrile. (Read: Koko, Migz can fix rift - Binay)
‘Isko willing to be Erap’s vice mayor’
For Moreno, his inclusion into PMP comes after former President Estrada announced that he is considering running for Manila mayor in 2013. Estrada named Moreno as his possible running mate.
Tiangco said Moreno’s decision to join PMP shows "good will" amid reports he may also seek the mayoralty post.
“Yung panunumpa ni Vice Mayor Isko is also a good sign na pinapakita niya na kung tatakbo si Erap ay siguro it’s a sign that shows na payag siyang mag-vice mayor. So maganda iyon eh. Pinapakita mo na ginagalang mo si Presidente Estrada. (The oath-taking of Vice Mayor Isko is also a good sign that shows that if Erap runs, it’s a sign that shows that he agrees to be vice mayor. So that’s good. It shows he respects President Estrada.)
Tiangco said, "We appreciate the sign of good will very much."
Estrada has not yet made up his mind about running for Manila mayor. He told the Inquirer that he is seeking the advice of Binay, his children and close allies. (Read: Erap: Manila mayor or no more?)
The former President said he was able to convince Moreno to be his running mate last March on the condition that Estrada will serve for only one term or 3 years.
Estrada, however, is wondering whether 3 years will be enough time for him to complete his urban renewal plan for Manila.
Tiangco said Estrada has not yet arrived at a final decision. – Rappler.com