Kid Peña picks Ernesto Mercado’s daughter as vice in Makati polls

MANILA, Philippines – Makati's acting mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr is set to run for mayor in 2016 and has chosen a political newcomer for a running mate. 

Karla Mercado, who is the daughter of former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado, will run as Peña's vice mayor. 

[She will be my candidate for vice mayor] not only because she is the daughter [of Ernesto Mercado] but ever since, sinasabi niya na sa ‘kin na sana mabigyan siya ng pagkakataon [na] makapagtrabaho sa Makati para sa pagbabago,” Peña said in a text message sent to Rappler on Sunday, October 11.

(She will be my candidate for vice mayor not only because she is the daughter of Ernesto Mercado but ever since, she has been telling me that she wants to be given the chance to work towards change in Makati.)

Mercado is a political neophyte, having never held a local elected post before. 

The Peña-Mercado tandem will run under the banner of the Liberal Party (LP), the same party that fielded Peña when he ran and won for vice mayor in 2013. (READ: FAST FACTS: Acting Makati City mayor Romulo "Kid" Peña Jr)

LP leader and Caloocan Representative Edgar “Egay” Erice confirmed this with Rappler, saying the party is “very much confident" with the Peña-Mercado team.

“Well, Kid is very popular in Makati,” Erice said in a text message.

Peña is currently the acting mayor after Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr received a  6-month preventive suspension order for his alleged involvement in an irregular constuction deal.

Binay was recently dismissed and barred from holding public office by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales for releasing funds for the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall parking building. Despite his suspension, Binay said he would seek re-election in 2016. (READ: Binay family on Junjun's dismissal: Why is LP so afraid of us?)

However, his other sister, Makati Representative Abigail Binay, also said that she may be “forced to run for mayor” if her brother cannot run. 

For ‘Makati’s development’

Ernesto Mercado's history with the Binay family goes way back. He was the elder Binay's vice mayor for many years before parting ways. (READ: Makati corruption witness: Who is Ernesto Mercado?)

In 2010, he ran for city mayor against the younger Binay but lost the race. Peña was Mercado’s guest running mate that year.

At the height of Ernesto Mercado’s testimony concerning VP Binay’s plunder case in the Senate, Karla Mercado’s name was brought up by United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) President and Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco.

The Mercados allegedly own several properties and businesses, including JMK Professional Manpower Solution Incorporated that was under the names of Karla and Juanita Mercado.

'My right to choose'

Asked if getting Karla Mercado as his running mate meant he intends to go head-to-head against the Binays, Peña said he chose her as his running mate for the sake of Makati’s improvement.

Hindi naman. Karapatan ko pumili ng tao na sa tingin ko [ay] may maiaambag sa lalong pagasenso sa Makati,” he said.

(I don’t think so. It’s my right to choose someone who I think will be able to contribute to Makati’s development.)

Peña and Mercado are expected to appear together in the Makati Coliseum on Monday, October 12, during Peña’s State of the City Address (SOCA) at 9 am.

After the SOCA, Peña will lead a unity walk to the Commission on Election’s Makati office, where he and his slate will file their certificates of candidacy.

Joining Peña will be Barangay Magallanes Kagawad Nico Garcia, who is eyeing the congressional seat for the 1st district of Makati, and Councilor Israel “Boyet” Cruzado who will contest the city’s 2nd district. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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