MANILA, Philippines - Vice-President Jejomar Binay on Thursday welcomed planned talks with Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III over his protest at the inclusion of rival Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri in the senatorial lineup of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in next year's polls.
Binay, in an interview with media in Makati, said there is no reason for him to refuse talks with Pimentel.
"Base sa mga nabasa ko sa diyaryo at nakita ko sa TV, kakausapin daw niya ko, kakausapin niya rin si President Erap. Iyun ang pagkakasabi ni Senator Koko. Walang dahilan para di kami mag-usap," he said.
He said the issue did come up in his most recent meeting with Pimentel in Malacañang.
Binay said it was Estrada who pushed for Zubiri's nomination and he is only following an earlier agreement between officers of their political alliance.
"More than the qualifications, napag-usapan kasi namin na ang nominees ng founding members na PDP, PMP [Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino] will be taken in as official candidates," he said.
He added that the PDP-Laban nominated Pimentel and Joey de Venecia to be included in UNA's senatorial lineup.
"Ngayon, noong nakaraang meeting namin sabi ni Pangulong Erap ang nominee nila ay si Senator Migz. We should just follow yung napagkasunduan," he said.
Binay declined to answer if Zubiri was chosen just because of money. "May sumagot na. Huwag niyo na kong isama diyan," he said.
He also said he is not the one to comment on Zubiri's abilities as a lawmaker.
"Huwag na ako ang tanungin niyo. Ang tanungin niyo na lang ay ang mga nakasama niya sa Senado," he said. "Magaling. He performed well for the brief time he was a senator."
The vice-president said his relationship with Pimentel remains good.
"Matagal naman kaming magkasama. Ako originally Laban ako. Iyung founders ng PDP si Senator Nene hanggang nung nagsama at dumating nga, Makati na lang ang PDP-Laban," he said. "Ako nagpakatatag ako. Kahit kami tinutuya at tinutukso na kung nakita mo si Senator Nene at Binay ay quorum na."
Binay refused to say what UNA's next move will be if Pimentel leaves the alliance.
"Atsaka na natin desisyunan iyun, 'no? Let's not speculate," he said.