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No alliance with GMA, FVR – Erap

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Mayor and former president Joseph Estrada said yesterday a political alliance between him and former Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Fidel Ramos “will never happen,” amid rumors of such an alliance after Estrada and Ramos visited the detained Arroyo last year.

In a telephone interview with The STAR, Estrada branded as mere rumor the reports that negotiations are being held between his camp, Ramos’ and Arroyo’s for a possible political alliance for the 2016 national elections.

“That will never happen. We cannot have political alliance. How can it be when we have incompatibilities,” Estrada said.

“I will never join Ramos. We are different. We have different political principles. That is simply a big rumor. It is a big speculation. They are capable of having speculations,” Estrada said.

Estrada also said that having a political alliance with Arroyo is also not possible.

“It is also a no because we have different political principles. I am allied with Vice President Jejomar Binay,” Estrada said when asked if it is possible for him to have a political alliance with Arroyo only.

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Binay ran in tandem with Estrada under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in the May 2010 elections. Estrada lost to President Aquino while Binay won as vice president.

Sources revealed that talks on a possible political alliance between the three former presidents for the 2016 national elections are underway.

Ramos and Estrada made separate visits to Arroyo at the Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City where she is detained on plunder charges in November and December, respectively, which triggered moves from the three camps to work on a possible political alliance, sources told The STAR.

“After the visit, some well-meaning friends of the three former presidents are working to forge a formidable political group to back up a common candidate in 2016 because they’re alarmed with what’s happening to our country,” the source said.

“They have no more ambitions and together, they are a force to reckon with,” the source said. “There’s no more conflict between the three and they all aspire for what’s best for our nation.”

Sought for comment, Ferdinand Topacio, one of the legal counsels of Arroyo, said there was nothing definite in the talks.

“Some mutual friends of the three presidents just broached the idea of working together but that’s just it. Nothing’s definite and I’m not sure if all of them were already apprised of the developments,” Topacio said.

 

Other visitors

Former vice president Noli de Castro and Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz yesterday visited Arroyo, who is now representative of the second district of Pampanga.

Cruz, a fierce critic of Arroyo when she was president, told reporters that his visit was “in the spirit of reconciliation, unity and compassion.” The two met for over an hour starting at around 10 a.m.

“Well, frankly I came to visit former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as some kind of reconciliation gesture and also to ask for her understanding because during her tenure it was not a secret that I openly spoke against some of the actions of the executive department,” Cruz said.

“But now that she is not only prosecuted but she is also being persecuted, there is vengeance. I think vengeance is in the heart of Malacañang. So my heart goes out to her,” he said.

The 66-year-old Arroyo, who is suffering from a degenerative bone disease, was seen wearing a neck brace as she escorted Cruz from her hospital room. As Cruz was leaving, De Castro arrived at the VMMC.

De Castro said Arroyo was not feeling well after his visit at the VMMC.

“I can see that she is not feeling well. Her condition deteriorated since the last time I saw her,” De Castro said, adding it was the first time he met Arroyo in detention.

De Castro was the vice president from 2004 to 2010. He is now the top radio and television news anchor of ABS-CBN. He said he has long planned to visit Arroyo but his heavy work schedule had prevented him from doing so.

Larry Gadon, one of Arroyo’s legal counsels, said she puts on the neck brace whenever she feels pain in her nape.

“She chooses to receive guests without the neck brace but there are times when she cries out in pain even in front of visitors because she could no longer bear it,” Gadon said.

Lawyer Raul Lambino, the lawmaker’s chief of staff, said last Dec. 14, Christian evangelist Bro. Eddie Villanueva, who ran against Arroyo in the 2004 presidential race, prayed with her during his one-hour visit at VMMC.

Villanueva was accompanied by Jesus Is Lord bishop Leo Alconga.

“He said she needs prayers and well-wishers for her health condition. He also said that it was his apostolic duty to deliver Christ’s message of justice with compassion and mercy,” Lambino said in a statement.

 

Palace: No comment

 

Malacañang refused to comment on reports of some politicians preparing for the 2016 presidential elections this early, saying there are still many things to do.

  – Paolo Romero, Jose Rodel Clapano, Aurea Calica

 

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