LP allies in Leyte join Binay party, says UNA

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Opposition party United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) yesterday claimed that the exodus of members of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) has begun.

UNA secretary general JV Bautista said administration allies from southern Leyte led by vice governor Sheffered Tan and provincial board member Albert Esclamado have bolted LP in favor of the party of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

“We have taken the fight even at the doorstep of our primary adversarial camps from the Visayas,” said Bautista in a news conference in Cebu City.

He said UNA will support the gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial bid of Tan and Esclamado.

Tan is running against incumbent Rep. Damian Mercado (LP), while Esclamado is running against Councilor Coco Yap (LP) of Sogod town and Daisy Gamale (Nacionalista Party).

Bautista said more major candidates from different provinces will soon announce their support for Binay, who is running against administration bet Manuel Roxas II.

Also joining the UNA ticket in the province is former St. Bernard Mayor Rico Rentuza, who is running for Congress against incumbent Gov. Roger Mercado (LP).

Rentuza is the former chairman of the southern Leyte chapter of LP. He now serves as UNA provincial coordinator.

Tan said he decided to transfer to the opposition party after LP supposedly mishandled the political arrangements of its members in the province.

Hearings resume

Meanwhile, now that Binay is back on top of a survey on presidential candidates, the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee has decided to resume its hearings on the alleged anomalies involving the Vice President and his family.

The Blue Ribbon subcommittee has set the hearing for next Tuesday, close to five months after the last hearing it conducted on the issue.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who filed the resolution that paved the way for the investigation, said the hearing will deal with the “total amount plundered by VP Binay from the coffers of Makati, which runs to billions of pesos.”

“We have a new witness who will attest to this,” Trillanes said.

It will be the 25th hearing of the subcommittee on the issue, which started in August 2014 with a detailed examination of the contract for the parking building constructed by the city government of Makati when Binay was still mayor.

The building, which was renamed as the Makati City Hall II, was found to be overpriced by the Blue Ribbon subcommittee.

After the parking building, the subcommittee looked into the other infrastructure projects undertaken by the Makati City government as well as the alleged assets of the family of Binay.

A partial committee report was released by the subcommittee in May last year that focused primarily on the parking building.

As a result of the hearings, the Office of the Ombudsman conducted an investigation into the projects and ordered the removal of the Vice President’s son and namesake Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. as mayor of Makati City.

The hearings continued until August last year but were suspended after the Senate started conducting hearings on the 2016 General Appropriations Act.

With the hearings on hiatus, the Vice President went on the campaign trail and kept silent on the allegations raised against him  – With Marvin Sy

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