MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay is cutting ties with the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas (PDP)-Laban to launch a new political party that is expected to carry him as its presidential standard-bearer in the May 2016 elections.
Binay, who has made no secret of his plan to run for president, is forming the new political party that will be formally launched on June 12, Philippine Independence Day.
Binay is the national chairman of the PDP-Laban currently headed by Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III as party president.
With Binay’s departure from the PDP-Laban, Binay’s politician-children – Sen. Nancy Binay, Makati Rep. Abigael Binay and Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay – are expected to join him.
In an exclusive interview with The STAR, Binay admitted he is parting ways with a heavy heart from the PDP-Laban with which he has been affiliated since he started in politics.
Binay was then a member of the Laban (Laban ng Bayan) party headed by former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., father of President Aquino.
Laban later joined forces with the PDP then headed by Koko’s father, former senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr.
Despite forming his own political party, Binay clarified he would remain in coalition with the United National Alliance (UNA), where he ran and won as vice president in the 2010 elections.
Binay’s PDP-Laban coalesced with the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who lost his comeback bid to President Aquino.
Binay said he would prefer an economist, not a politician, as his running mate.
Binay’s ties with the PDP-Laban began to fray when Koko opted out of the 12-man UNA senatorial slate and instead joined the administration Liberal Party (LP)-backed senatorial slate in the May 2013 elections.
The still unnamed political party would have in its core leadership allies of Binay, including a number of incumbent members of the 16th Congress and elected local government officials.
Binay initially disclosed the new political party would include boxing legend Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, Cebu Rep. Gwen Garcia, Parañaque Rep. Gus Tambunting and Makati Rep. Monique Lagdameo.
Estrada, for his part, said his Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) may join forces with the new political party of Binay in his presidential bid in 2016.
Estrada said Binay remains as the opposition’s presidential bet for 2016.
“No problem. That is his call. He is our presidential candidate in the United Nationalist Alliance,” Estrada said yesterday when asked to comment on Binay’s reported plan to leave the PDP-Laban.
Estrada added he would retire from politics after his first term as mayor of Manila.
Estrada brushed aside reports that he is again running for president in 2016.
“I would rather run for mayor again if indeed I have plans not to retire yet, than run for president. But I am retiring from politics after my first term as mayor ends in 2016. I want to enjoy the remaining years that I have in my lifetime,” he said.
Estrada said some people are merely floating the idea that he may again seek the presidency.
“There are still many things to do in Manila,” Estrada said.
Estrada said he has been consistent in his campaign promise that he will be giving the seat to Vice Mayor Isko Moreno once his term ends in 2016.
Pimentel, on the other hand, said he was not aware of Binay’s decision to bolt the party but said it was “understandable.”
Pimentel said that he has not spoken with Binay since the 2013 election.
During the 2013 campaign period, Pimentel said he and Binay were planning to discuss the future of the party in light of their well-publicized differences in opinion.
Pimentel decided to run under the administration senatorial slate to protest UNA’s decision to include former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri in its senatorial slate.
After going through an electoral protest against Zubiri for the 2007 election, Pimentel said he could not possibly be in the same ticket with the former senator.
Pimentel’s pleas were ignored by Binay and Estrada, who sustained their decision to include Zubiri in UNA.
Almost a year after the 2013 election, Pimentel said he has not talked to Binay because of their busy schedules.
UNA secretary general Toby Tiangco, meanwhile, criticized the “selective prosecution” of former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay, wife of the Vice President, as part of the “Destroy Binay” plot.
Tiangco scored the Office of the Special Prosecutor of the Office of the Ombudsman for showing a double-standard of justice.
He said the 2016 election is the sole motivation for the special prosecutor’s unusual interest in digging up decades-old charges against Mrs. Binay.
“The dismissal of these cases are final and executory but the Office of the Special Prosecutor has willfully ignored the law and the Constitution in pursuing its mad obsession with harassing the Vice President’s wife. This is obviously a demolition job orchestrated by forces outside the ombudsman’s office,” Tiangco said. – Jose Rodel Clapano, Marvin Sy