Binay - Erap

MANILA — Vice President Jejomar Binay has begun mobilizing his forces in preparation for his presidential run four years from now, in what could be a repeat of his showdown against then Senator Manuel Roxas II for the vice presidency in 2010.

Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) has formally joined forces with former president Joseph Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) to form what is now called the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Estrada said recently that the alliance was a “done deal” and confirmed that it was part of Binay’s eventual candidacy in the 2016 presidential election, not just in next year’s senatorial race.

“Sigurado na iyon,” the former president told the Philippine Inquirer in a phone interview, referring to Binay’s presidential run.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said the “coalition agreement” between the PMP and the PDP-Laban had been signed and filed with the Commission on Elections in time for the March 31 deadline for the registration of coalition parties.

Pimentel claimed that the new coalition was not necessarily put up with President Benigno Aquino’s Liberal Party in mind.

“This is not an anti-LP coalition,” he told the Inquirer. “This is an entity, a coalition between the political parties of former President Erap and Vice President Binay so that anybody who wants to join can do so, the LP included.”

Roxas has a pending election protest questioning the victory of Binay, then Estrada’s runningmate, in the 2010 vice presidential race.

Estrada said UNA had been attracting “so many applicants” vying for a slot on the senatorial ticket. He said Binay would eventually have the final say on who gets picked. He said he would be available only for consultation.

Besides himself, Pimentel said, prospective candidates include San Juan Representative Jose Victor Ejercito, Jack Enrile, Joey De Venecia, Ernesto Maceda and reelectionist Senators Gregorio Honasan, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, and Alan Peter Cayetano. De Venecia, who had squealed on the government’s national broadband network deal after he failed to secure the contract, ran and lost in the 2010 senatorial elections.

Estrada said also in the mix are former senator Jamby Madrigal and former representative Juan Miguel Zubiri.

Pimentel made no effort to hide his dismay over the possible inclusion of Zubiri in the UNA senatorial slate. He noted that Zubiri was the reason why he waited four years before he could assume his Senate post.

Zubiri was declared winner of the 12th and final slot in the 2007 senatorial election. Pimentel contested the result and Zubiri eventually stepped down on August 3, 2011, eight days before the Senate Electoral Tribunal declared Pimentel as the rightful winner.

“Unfortunately, he is in the (UNA) list,” Pimentel told the Inquirer. “That’s a big problem. How could I be with the person who deprived me of my four years in the Senate? Certainly, I’m not jumping with joy over this.”

Pimentel said he was wondering why Zubiri would even be considered when he was neither a member of the PDP-Laban nor of the PMP. “Unless he’s now secretly a member of the PMP,” he said. (Philippine Daily Inquirer)