Jonvic Remulla now Binay spokesman, to leave NP

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla is the new spokesperson of Vice President Jejomar Binay for political affairs.

Remulla faced reporters to make the announcement before Binay's press briefing at the Coconut Palace in Pasay on Wednesday, August 27.

Remulla said he already talked to Nacionalista Party (NP) president and former Senator Manuel "Manny" Villar Jr that he is leaving NP to become Binay's spokesman and likely to join Binay's new political party next year. The NP is in coalition with the ruling Liberal Party (LP). 

"There is no party formed by the Vice President yet. Once there is a party, we will have a discussion. Let's cross the bridge when we get there."

"I believe in the Vice President, his vision for the country. What he can do in Makati, he can do for the country. I believe in his sincerity, integrity. I believe he is most qualified to be president in 2016."

Binay in turn described Remulla as a "good governor." 

"He speaks well. In politics, the more leadership you can have, the better for you. Politics is always addition. He will join our party," Binay told reporters. 

Remulla said that he will push for Cavite, one of the most vote-rich provinces in the Philippines, to support Binay in 2016. His local party Magdalo will also support the vice president. Magdalo is currently in coalition with the NP. 

He added that he has been in talks with Binay as early as two years ago, and has done "research" for the Vice President. 

The governor said there will be no conflict between his role in Cavite and as Binay's spokesman, and he will not be distracted in his work as a local official. 

Tiangco's 'partner'

United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) Secretary General and Navotas Representative Tobias "Toby" Tiangco also showed up at the Coconut Palace and explained his role vis-a-vis Remulla's.

"Sampu na kasi sumusuntok sa akin, mag-isa lang ako. May sumusuntok sa harap, sa gilid, kahit tulog ako kaya ito, may kasama na ako (Ten people are punching me and I am only one. People are punching me even when I'm asleep so now I have a partner)."

Tiangco added, "You can't run for president and not consult Cavite, one of the biggest provinces. He has a feel of the people. We consult him on what programs should be done." 

Remulla said he will talk about Binay's views while Tiangco will be discussing "the broader political spectrum."

Binay is still retaining his "overall spokesman" Joey Salgado, whom Remulla called "the guidance counselor."

Remulla said the Senate probe into the allegedly overpriced Makati "parking building" led by his soon-to-be former partymates, Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano was not credible. The two have expressed interest in higher office, possibly challenging Binay's presidential bid. 

"I am 100% certain that it's politically motivated. It's part and parcel of their political plans. If they do pursue their political ambitions, this helps them. What they have purported are allegations. They are using the Senate as unfair advantage against anyone," Remulla said.

"We will answer all allegations point for point with all sincerity. We won't shy away from issues. We won't back down from the allegations. It's easier to answer if you are truthful," he added.

Remulla said the NP has yet to formally declare its standard-bearer and candidates for 2016 so there is also no conflict with him being Binay's spokesman and an NP member for now. He stressed he cannot speak on behalf of the NP. 

"I will always be loyal to Vice President Binay. I will always be loyal to his cause and what he stands for," Remulla said. 

In response, Cayetano said he wishes Remulla well.

"I am happy for Governor Jonvic Remulla because I know that he is a very talented and articulate individual. However, the situation (alleged overpricing) does not call for more spokesmen, the situation calls for the Vice President answering the issues directly," Cayetano told reporters. 

'Villar possible Binay running mate'

Remulla joining the Binay camp sparked speculation that the NP might coalesce with the Vice President's party, and Villar might end up as Binay's running mate.

Binay said it was a "secret" if Villar was the businessman he is referring to as his possible running mate. Villar has yet to announce any political plans for 2016 after a failed 2010 presidential bid. 

"Everything is probable. They are all being considered," Binay said. "In politics, many impossible things end up becoming possible." 

Asked whether more politicians will join him, Binay said, "Napakarami, maniwala ka sa akin. Ipapakita ko ang text. Natutuwa ako kasi maraming nagte-text sa akin.” (There are so many, believe me. I will show you the text messages. I am happy so many people text me.) – Rappler.com