P-Noy looking outside LP for standard bearer

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

Consensus being sought on 2016 bet

MANILA, Philippines - The person President Aquino will endorse as successor may not necessarily come from his own party.

 In an interview late Tuesday with reporters who covered his trip to Singapore, Aquino said he is consulting other parties regarding the matter while the ruling Liberal Party (LP) is in the process of building a consensus on who should be its standard bearer in 2016.

“Do you talk to the United Nationalist Alliance on the consensus? Not directly to UNA, but I did talk to somebody who came from UNA,” he said, referring to Vice President Jejomar Binay, who remains the frontrunner among the presidential hopefuls for 2016.

The President, who is also LP chairman, said he and Binay met on several occasions before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summits, at the height of the Senate probe into allegations of corruption against the Vice President. The two highest officials of the land talked at Malacañang’s Bahay Pangarap for a few hours.

“I don’t talk to Toby Tiangco or others. I did talk to the Vice President. So I cannot say that I did not talk to any of them,” Aquino said, referring to UNA spokesman Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco.

“I engage everybody who wants to talk to me, even those who are fond of giving unsolicited advice,” he said.

“Those who helped us in 2010, those who are helping us now, as well as those who came forward after 2010 to help us and declare their solidarity with our advocacy – those are the people we’re engaging with,” Aquino said.

“I take note of the their advice that I don’t solicit. If they bring up something, I tell them my opinion,” he said.

“We engage in political discussions, but we don’t discuss specific candidates,” he clarified, declining to reveal who he wants to endorse.

Some LP members have said Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II is still the party’s “sentimental” choice.

What is more important, Aquino said, is that the party is building a consensus to make sure its standard-bearer for 2016 is the top choice of its members.

“In our party, consensus is important. One cannot just talk about something that’s not yet agreed upon. So I am not at liberty to talk on behalf of LP, and if I talk on an individual basis, the time is not yet right,” he explained.

“Well, at the very least, the consensus-building processes are being conducted,” Aquino stressed.

LP is also seeking inputs from supporters as part of its selection process. The party’s primary objective is to ensure that reforms started under the Aquino administration are carried over to the next administration.

Senate President Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, has not given up on supporting Roxas’ presidential bid.

Drilon, LP vice-chairman, said he is not very comfortable supporting a bet from another political party.

“I am a partyman, and I would prefer a party-member. We do not lack talents in our party,” he said.

“If he expresses his interest, I will support him,” he said, referring to Roxas.

But Drilon said he has not discussed the issue with his partymates “precisely because we are so busy.”

The Senate president said he has not yet discussed the LP’s plans for 2016 with President Aquino.

“We’re so busy with so many things at the moment to have time for consultations. The President I’m sure is very busy and I can’t speak for the others, but I haven’t had the chance to have consultations with the President on the specific issues,” Drilon said. – Christina Mendez

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