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Noy’s LP ‘adopting’ Binay? Mar unaware

In this March 2013 photo, President Benigno Aquino III shares a light moment with Vice President Jejomar Binay during the 108th Commencement Exercises of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Pudang – Kalis” Class 2013 at the Fajardo Grandstand, Borromeo Field, Fort General Gregorio del Pilar, Baguio City. Malacañang Photo Bureau/Jay Morales

MANILA, Philippines - With its presumptive standard bearer unable to improve in survey ratings, is the administration Liberal Party (LP) planning to “adopt” an outsider for the 2016 race?

Vice President Jejomar Binay said yesterday he had received raw information that the LP was considering either to adopt him in 2016 or to coalesce with the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Binay issued the statement on the sidelines of the opening of a commemorative exhibit marking the fifth death anniversary of former President Corazon Aquino at the Glorietta mall in Makati led by President Aquino.

The Vice President said he was told of “loose talk” within the administration about adopting him as a candidate, but he stressed there were no formal discussions yet on the matter.

“It was relayed to me. You may call it double hearsay, but in politics everything is probable,” Binay told The STAR when asked to clarify his earlier statement to reporters. “In politics, nothing is impossible.”

Binay, who has made no secret of his plan to seek the presidency in 2016, expressed openness to the idea as it would allow two of the country’s biggest political parties to join forces.

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The LP’s presumptive standard bearer, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, said he was unaware of such plans by his party and advised reporters to ask Binay where he heard the story.

Roxas was also present at the Aquino exhibit. He initially said he had nothing to say about Binay’s statement as President Aquino, being the LP chairman, would make the final decision.

Later, Roxas said he had heard nothing about what Binay had disclosed.

Roxas said what he knew was the President’s admonition to the LP that whoever is picked as standard bearer, there should be no shred of doubt that the person would be able to continue Aquino’s programs and focus on good governance.

Later, he texted that he would abide by the decision of the LP leadership in choosing a standard bearer without any taint of corruption: “Susundin namin kung anuman ang party leadership decision sa pagpili ng sino mang mapipili na walang bahid ni katiting ng korupsyon.”

Recent polls on potential presidential candidates in 2016 have shown him languishing far behind Binay, with Sen. Grace Poe, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and even Aquino’s movie star sister Kris rating higher.

There are speculative reports that the LP has given Roxas until yearend or as early as next month to improve in the surveys before another standard bearer is picked.

In the 2010 elections, Roxas had slid down to the vice presidency after the death of Corazon Aquino in August 2009 boosted the popularity of her only son.

Roxas lost to Binay, who ran under the opposition umbrella. There were unconfirmed reports that Binay was supported by Aquino’s sisters and a group called “Noy-Bi” – for Noynoy Aquino and Binay.

Family friend

Yesterday’s exhibit brought together family and close friends of the Aquinos, including the Binays.

Last week in his penultimate State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Aquino raised eyebrows when he mentioned Binay standing by Corazon Aquino’s government during the 1987 coup attempt.

Positive reactions to the SONA given by several UNA politicians prompted the Binay camp to deny that he would be the administration candidate in the 2016 presidential race.

His spokesman Joey Salgado said yesterday Binay’s candidacy “is not anchored” on the support of the administration party.

Binay became a friend of the Aquino family when he became part of a group of lawyers who fought the Marcos regime. He has often said he owed his political fortunes to Corazon Aquino, who named him officer-in-charge of Makati when she replaced all local officials after the 1986 people power revolt.

Though part of the opposition, the Vice President, normally called the spare tire in government, has not been critical of Aquino.

Binay also sits in the Cabinet as housing chief, although some of his housing functions have been taken over by Roxas. Binay is also the presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers’ concerns.

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