Binay-Marcos? Bongbong still unsure

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay said his possible tandem with Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr is “85%-90%” sealed but the senator insisted he has yet to decide. 

The opposition standard-bearer said he is finalizing this week an alliance with the son of the late president Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator he fought during martial law. Binay told reporters on Wednesday, September 16, that talks with his possible running mate are only “10% to 15%” short of being concluded.

When asked about Marcos, Binay said, “Basta ang sagot, favorable.” (All I can say is that the response is favorable.) 

Binay said he was not in touch with Marcos directly but he got the information through “intermediaries.” 

Yet Marcos expressed surprise when asked about Binay's pronouncement. 

“Really? I didn't know that. That's news to me…but no final decisions have been made. We will still consult with the Nacionalista Party (NP) this week. I cannot say something like that with certainty. We are still waiting to decide because there are still certain elements that are unclear,” the senator said in an interview. 

He stressed: “For me, nothing definite has been decided.” 

Marcos is a member of the NP of businessman and former Senate president Manuel Villar Jr. Binay is the chairman of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). 

Rappler reported in August that Marcos is Binay's first choice for running mate, overlooking their political history. Binay was a human rights lawyer and street parliamentarian who fought the Marcos regime. 

In Binay's latest interview at the Solaire Resort and Casino in Parañaque on Wednesday, the Vice President is confident that it is only a matter of time for the Binay-Marcos tandem to be finalized. 

“Okay na kaya lang mayroon pang dapat gawin para mabuo ang 100%. Unang-una kung paano ang paga-announce. Isa sa dapat pag-usapan,” Binay said. 

(It's okay but there are still some things that need to be done to secure the 100%. First is how to announce it. That's one of the things under discussion.) 

Binay said if he and Marcos forge an agreement this week, the announcement will not be done immediately to find the “proper timing.”  

The Vice President admitted though that he was looking at other possible vice presidential bets in case his first choice declines. 

“Let us just concentrate here first but there are always other options. So I can tell you if option one does not push through, it will take time because we have to go to option two,” said Binay. 

Binay said it might take until the end of September for him to choose a partner ahead of the filing of candidacies on October 12 to 16. 

“There are still 10 to 15 days remaining. If this pushes through, then we will have a running mate as soon as possible.” 

Marcos and his '1,000 variables' 

Marcos admitted that he has been in “very close, constant communication” with Binay's intermediaries. He previously identified one of them as UNA president Navotas Representative Tobias “Toby” Tiangco, his cousin-in-law. 

“I assume the reporting [to Binay] has been very accurate but this is not a decision made by an individual but a decision made by many areas, including outside the political arena as well, so we have to see,” Marcos said. 

One consideration is Marcos' party. The NP has 3 members who might compete against each other for the vice presidency: Marcos, and Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV. 

Ever since announcing his intention to run for higher office, Marcos has said he is looking at the “political landscape” to finalize his plans. The senator is up for re-election but he can vie for president or vice president. He has been airing political ads even before making a final decision. 

He said that Senator Grace Poe's declaration of her presidential bid on Wednesday will help his decision-making.

“It will make the situation clearer. That announcement will make it clear, her involvement in the elections.” 

Still, Marcos is looking at other factors, saying he wants to decide “with as much information as possible.”

“There are thousands [of variables]: what is happening in Ilocos [Norte], what is happening in every single province, what is happening in the national [scene], in the party, in the individuals within the party – all of these are elements that affect the decision,” he said. 

Re-election still an option  

While he has said he is eyeing higher office, Marcos clarified he is still open to just seeking another Senate term. 

“Everything is still under consideration. What I said before was that what we were discussing was higher office.”  

When will the senator decide? 

“When I am clear. Soon. I cannot give you a date. And even if you push and push it will not change what I am going to do. I will continue to do what I am doing now, take as much time as I can take.” 

Political players are also waiting for the results of the September survey that will show the ranking of presidential and vice presidential aspirants, the last poll before the candidacy filing.  

Despite Binay's certainty, Marcos said: “It's not a simple decision to make.” – Rappler.com