MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay attempted to reconcile his choice of preferred running mate with political history by saying Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr is a man of his own.
Binay defended his first choice for vice presidential candidate by glossing over Marcos' links with the dictatorship of the senator's father and namesake, the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
The opposition standard-bearer is now trying to convince Marcos to run with him, despite the fact that he fought martial law and defended human rights victims of the Marcos regime.
“Let's move on. He is not his father,” Binay said in an interview with CNN Philippines' Pia Hontiveros on Thursday, October 1.
A possible Binay-Marcos tandem draws controversy because the two politicians were on different sides of history. As a former human rights lawyer, Binay was even jailed during martial law. He is known as one of the closest allies of the late President Corazon Aquino, who challenged Marcos' dictatorship.
Marcos has yet to announce his political plans. He may vie for the presidency, the vice presidency or re-election. His first Senate term is ending in 2016.
Despite Binay's statement, the senator said his father was a huge influence on his political career.
He posted an old photo of him with his father on Facebook on September 28, along with the caption: “I miss him very much. I could have used his fatherly advice at this time. But rather than mourn, I will celebrate him. He may be gone, but his legacy remains in all of us.”
'Meeting Marcos right away'
Binay calls Marcos his “plan A” for a running mate, but the senator seems to have another first choice for president.
On Wednesday, Marcos flew to Davao City to meet with Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and discuss the 2016 polls. The meeting came a night after Marcos' party mate, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, met with Duterte to offer himself as vice president in case the mayor decides to run for president.
Cayetano declared his vice presidential bid on Tuesday while Marcos has yet to announce his political plans.
Yet Binay is still pursuing Marcos, even saying they are about to meet soon.
“Meeting is set to happen 'within the framework of right away,'” Binay said.
If it pushes through, it will be the first time Binay and Marcos will meet about the elections since UNA offered the vice presidential slot to the senator in early August.
Besides the historical baggage, Binay and Marcos also come from different political parties. The Vice President is chairman of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) while Marcos is a member of the Nacionalista Party of former Senate President Manuel Villar Jr.
UNA secretary general JV Bautista told Rappler that “very influential personalities” are mediating between Binay and Marcos.
Bautista dismissed Marcos' meeting with Duterte.
“Is he talking to Mayor Duterte to be his VP or to get his support? Nothing is clear. We don't know what they talked about. We're out of that conversation,” Bautista said.
Marcos told reporters he asked for Duterte's advice as they both finalize their 2016 plans.
Bautista said UNA does not consider the Duterte-Marcos meeting as a sign of bad faith even if the opposition is still negotiating with Marcos.
“Bongbong Marcos does not belong to our party. As far as we are concerned, he is a free agent. There is no limitation as to the crafting of his own political plan and strategy,” Bautista said.
' File photo
Binay repeatedly said that he is open to running with Marcos to show that his government will be “unifying.”
To Bautista, the Vice President wants to consolidate the so-called “Solid North” voting bloc of Northern Luzon. Binay is from Isabela while Marcos was representative and governor of Ilocos Norte. The senator also counts Leyte as his bailiwick as his mother, former First Lady Imelda Marcos, hails from the province.
“There has not been a single incident when Bongbong Marcos himself upheld or supported any violation of human rights. VP Binay is thinking that Bongbong should be given a chance to prove that whatever was the effect of the previous government led by his father, that does not seem to be his own trajectory,” the UNA official said.
“Why should he suffer from the accident of his birth?”
Binay also does not see running with Marcos as a betrayal of the ideals of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution which led to the ouster of the senator's father.
“Jojo Binay wants to build on our successes. He wants to build on the restoration of democracy but he is saying we have to move on. We can’t continue to repeat over and over [again] the sins of the past which occurred more than 30 years ago and use it as an excuse not to be able to move forward. We need closure,” said Bautista.
Honasan forced to be 'plan B'
If talks with Marcos do not prosper, Binay has two other options for running mate: UNA vice president Senator Gregorio Honasan II, and former Senator Panfilo Lacson.
For now, the Binay camp is divided on who should run with the Vice President.
“Inside the camp, there are those for Senator Bongbong, those for Senator Gringo, those for Senator Ping,” Bautista said. “In the case of Senator Honasan, it's very easy because he is our party mate. For Bongbong it's more complicated because he is from NP. Senator Lacson is an independent so it's easier.”
Binay has difficulty finding a running mate as his popularity plunges due to multiple corruption allegations.
Like him, administration candidate and former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II also does not have a running mate yet. Only Senator Grace Poe sealed a tandem with her close friend, Senator Francis Escudero.
Binay and Roxas are running out of time to find partners as the October 16 deadline to file candidacies draws near. – Rappler.com