PMP bet withdraws; group backs Binay

Jose Rodel Clapano - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) standard-bearer Romel Mendoza withdrew yesterday his candidacy for president, leaving only six vying for the nation’s top post in May.

Mendoza, who is also secretary general of the multisectoral group Kalipunan ng Masang Pilipino or Kampil, a PMP ally, told a press conference in Manila that he could not mount a nationwide presidential campaign and that Kampil would support Vice President Jejomar Binay, standard bearer of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, founding head of the PMP, has yet to endorse a presidential candidate and welcomed Mendoza’s withdrawal.

Mendoza said that Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, PMP president, nominated him as the party’s presidential candidate. Kampil is an ally of PMP.

Mendoza said that he filed his certificate of candidacy for president under the PMP to reserve a slot for Estrada in case he decided to run for president.

This was after Estrada said he would be forced to run if both Binay and Sen. Grace Poe would be disqualified.

Mendoza said now that Estrada has decided to run for reelection as mayor of Manila, he has no other option but to withdraw his candidacy.

Estrada said Mendoza made the right decision “because I don’t have any intention to run for president.”

“My concentration right now is to get a second term as Manila mayor,“ Estrada said.

“The Kalipunan ng Masang Pilipino, a multisectoral organization, is strongly endorsing the candidacy of Vice President Jejomar Binay for president, primarily because of his pro-Filipino and pro-masses agenda and platform of government,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza said Binay is competent and has the professional track record to lead the Philippines.

“I am withdrawing my candidacy. We will officially notify the Comelec so that my name will no longer cause confusion in the official list of candidates to be printed in the ballots,” Mendoza said.

He thanked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for not declaring him a nuisance candidate.

“I thank the Comelec for trusting PMP to field presidential candidate and recognizing my qualification, even though I am a simple and ordinary citizen qualified to run for president in accordance with the Constitution,” Mendoza said.

The Comelec had included the obscure Mendoza in the list of presidential bets led by Binay, administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II, Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and OFW Family party-list Rep. Roy Señeres.

Mendoza said that Kampil’s 10,000 members would now campaign for Binay.

Kampil national president Jervy Maglunog urged the opposition to unite and support only one presidential candidate.

Maglunog said that they would support Binay all the way to the May elections.

He said their group would still support Binay even if Mayor Estrada endorses another presidential candidate.

Senator Poe said her family is close to the family of Mayor Estrada, but she does not want to presume the Estradas would be supporting her presidential bid.

“If there is anything I learned about this campaign, and prior to that, about my work at the Senate, it’s better not to assume things and wait for the leadership of the party to make a statement regarding that,” Poe told The STAR yesterday.

“I always maintained that although we are very close as a family to former President Erap, our political decisions are our own. It may not be necessarily the same. We may not be on the same page all the time, so it’s always better to separate the personal from the political,” Poe added. With Mayen Jaymalin, Christina Mendez

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