‘Politicians, ordinary folk want to join Binay’

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Political leaders and ordinary folk from all over the country have been wanting to join Vice President Jejomar Binay’s advocacy, which is why he decided to form a new political party, a lawmaker close to him said yesterday.

Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco said governors, mayors, lawmakers and private individuals have been expressing their desire to join Binay’s political group, but the Vice President could not formally accept them as he is confronting internal issues within his party, the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas (PDP)-Laban.

He said the original plan was to form the party in 2015 but with Binay’s supporters growing daily, there should be a formal organization that could accept them as members.

“There’s so many of them, people from all walks of life, who eagerly want to join the Vice President, but we can’t always tell them to wait until things are resolved, so last week the Vice President decided to form a new political party so that they can formally take their oath,” Tiangco, secretary general of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), told The STAR in a telephone interview.

The new political party, which is expected to carry Binay as its presidential candidate in the May 2016 elections, will be formally launched on June 12, Philippine Independence Day.

The PDP-Laban is in coalition with other parties, including the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, which in turn are all under UNA. Tiangco said the new party would still be in coalition with UNA.

Makati City Rep. Abigail Binay-Campos told The STAR she would naturally join her father’s new political party once it is formally organized. She also said she would stay with the majority bloc in the House of Representatives when it happens.

Reports said other members of the new political party include world boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia, Parañaque Rep. Gustavo Tambunting, and Makati City Rep. Monique Lagdameo.

Rift between Binay, Koko

Last week, Binay disclosed that he was parting ways with the PDP-Laban that he helped found decades ago owing to a rift with Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

Binay is the national chairman of PDP-Laban, while Pimentel is its president. Binay was a member of the Laban (Laban ng Bayan) party headed by the late senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., father of President Aquino.

Laban later joined forces with the PDP then headed by Koko’s father, former senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr.

The division in PDP-Laban began to show when Koko opted out of the 12-man UNA senatorial slate and instead joined the administration’s Liberal Party senatorial slate in the May 2013 elections.

Pimentel had a falling out with Binay and Estrada during last year’s senatorial race after the two UNA leaders decided to include former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri in its slate.

Because Zubiri was the subject of his electoral protest in 2007, Koko said he could not possibly run alongside him in the elections.

Koko: Binay free to leave

Pimentel said yesterday that Binay is free to leave the PDP-Laban because every Filipino has a right to form associations as guaranteed by the Constitution.

While he has not yet secured an official confirmation from Binay, Pimentel said he expects the Vice President to inform him out of etiquette.

Pimentel said he has been reaching out to Binay for some time, but they have not managed to get together for a dialogue about the party.

He also said that PDP-Laban would not be affected by the reported decision of Binay to leave the party.

“Our party would continue to gain strength. The party is not merely a platform for elections but is a movement,” Pimentel said over radio dwIZ yesterday.

“So regardless of who joins or leaves the party, it would still exist because the members subscribe to an ideology and not to one person,” he added.

Cases vs Binay’s wife resurrected

Long before the 2016 presidential elections, however, Binay said there is already a demolition campaign against him.

Binay earlier condemned the revival of the dismissed cases against his wife, describing them as political harassment and part of a demolition campaign linked to his plan to run for president in 2016.

The lawyers of former Makati City mayor Elenita Binay assailed the Office of the Special Prosecutor of the Office of the Ombudsman for resurrecting three more dismissed cases against their client – all involving alleged irregularities in the purchase of beds at the Ospital ng Makati filed in 2003.

“Mrs. Binay was deprived of her right to due process when the Office of the Special Prosecutor included her again in the graft cases despite the fact that the dismissal of the cases has become final and executory,” lawyer Felicitas Aquino said in a statement.

In a manifestation filed before the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division, defense counsels said they have filed a motion for clarification and a motion for reconsideration before the Office of the Ombudsman on Feb. 5, asking that the ombudsman throw out its special prosecutor’s finding of probable cause, citing the “final and executory” dismissal of the cases two years ago.

OVP website hacked

Meanwhile, the website of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) remained inaccessible yesterday afternoon after it was allegedly attacked by hacktivist group Anonymous in the wake of protests against the anti-cybercrime law.

In its Facebook page, Anonymous posted a list of websites that were supposedly attacked during the “black Tuesday protest” against Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

Aside from the OVP website, also in the list were the online portals of the National Telecommunications Commission, Philippine National Police-National Operations Center (PNP-NOC), Philippine Anti-Piracy Team (PAPT), Philippine embassy in Rome, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the websites of various local government units.

The PNP-NOC home page showed a message saying that the site is under maintenance, while the PAPT site featured a message from the hackers.

“In the year 1987… the late former President Corazon Aquino passed the bill that gave the Filipino people its right to freedom of speech and expression. But in the year 2012, politicians and lawmakers came up with the bill that kills the right of the people to freely express their opinion and freedom of speech through the internet,” read the message.

“We, the citizens of the Internet, fight again for this right and for this freedom. We fight not only for ourselves but also for others who stand with us against the Cybercrime Law,” it added. – With Marvin Sy, Michael Punongbayan, Janvic Mateo

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