Did Peping camp campaign for Noy-Bi?

By Carmela Fonbuena, abs-cbnNews.com/ Newsbreak

Posted at May 14 2010 07:37 AM | Updated as of May 14 2010 03:42 PM

Tingting Cojuangco says Roxas camp only looking for someone to blame for prospective loss

MANILA, Philippines - A faction among the relatives of leading presidential candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III junked his running mate Manuel “Mar” Roxas II in favor of their long-time political ally, Jejomar “Jojo” Binay of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, according to Aquino-Roxas tandem supporter Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado.

"Ang dala ng mga Cojuangco ay Noy-Bi, not Noy-Mar (The Cojuangcos are carrying Noynoy-Binay, not Noynoy-Mar). They all came here [in Mindanao]. Tingting Cojuangco was here with Jun Simon," Mercado, a professor at the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City and founder of the Mindanao Leaders Coalition or Kusug Mindanaw, told abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak in a phone interview.

Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco is Noynoy’s aunt. She is the wife of Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., the younger brother of the late President Corazon Aquino whose alleged deals and influence-peddling during her administration led a columnist to coin the word Kamag-anak Inc. (Relatives Incorporated).

Simon, on the other hand, is a member of Peping’s Council on Philippine Affairs (COPA). He was appointed by President Aquino as OIC Mayor of Quezon City in 1986.

“Of course, they still have their contacts during the time of Cory,” Mercado added.

Mercado said this could be part of the reason why Binay is leading over Roxas in Mindanao. It was also helpful that Binay campaigned in the region; he said Roxas did not.

Binay and Roxas are neck and neck in the vice presidential race. Both camps claim they will win in the final Commission on Elections (Comelec) tally.

Comelec tally as of 10:57 p.m. on Thursday shows that Binay is leading Roxas by around 800,000 votes.

Tingting's denial

Tingting denied she campaigned for Binay, however.

“I saw Nene Araneta 3 days before the elections to strategize for Mar. Roxas’s supporters’ remarks are unfair! They should find someone to blame, I surmise,” she said in a mobile text message sent through Peping’s spokesman Joey Romasanta.

“Thank you ABS-CBN, di ko alam ganyan ako kalakas sa ARMM (I didn't know I'm that influential in the ARMM). I have true friends there and I respect my Moro friends’ decision to choose the leaders they like,” she said, answering the question of abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak.

Reports of Aquino’s relatives supporting Binay rocked the Liberal Party camp at the start of the campaign period in February. The rumors persisted throughout the campaign period, but LP has repeatedly denied it.

Binay and the Cojuangcos are historical allies. Binay was the first OIC mayor appointed by President Aquino after the 1986 People Power Revolution. He and his family have not left city hall since.

Binay’s Makati was also the regular venue of anti-President Arroyo protests led by the Corazon Aquino.

Asked again about recent reports that the Cojuangcos campaigned for Binay, LP campaign manager Florencio Abad on Thursday said: “That we need to validate. As it is now, it’s all loose talk.”

Binay himself said he is not surprised that some relatives of Noynoy Aquino campaigned for him.

Rift with Mar camp

But Tingting did not deny the rift between her family and the camp of Roxas. She said they’re easing out people in the campaign “to jockey for positions.”

“[I] wish I had campaigned. My daughter Mikee took over for me. [She did] great work for her Kuya Noy. She’s angry at the distrust from [the] Mar staff…. There begins the easing out of faithful workers. Blaming others to jockey for positions… Justifying funds for those who lost and spent because they misspent money. Sordid stories but true to life,” Tingting said in another mobile text message.

In a previous interview, Abad said Noynoy is deliberately distancing his relatives from the campaign to avoid accusations that he is favoring them.

“In his campaign, he is very careful not to involve very openly—of courser his sisters are there—but the other members of the family, he’s very careful. And I think he will even be more strict if he sits as president, that I’m very confident [of],” Abad said. He tells people, if you’re going to help me now—you know their relatives—I heard him say, 'Don’t expect anything after this, because this is a big sacrifice not just on my part but on all of us. We’re out to prove something eh. We’re standing on a platform that says we will not tolerate abuse of authority.'”

Binay's win, according to Tingting

Still, Tingting said she, "as a sociologist," can explain why Binay could win over Roxas.

“Intrigue or not, I will answer why Jojo is leading. From my interviews as a sociologist…sisterhood alliance made Jojo win. Mar didn’t sign the peace MOA. The old folks like Jojo’s health care program. The apos (grandchildren) spread the news to vote for him. And the Boy Scouts like the little mayor [program],” Tingting said.

Mercado said the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that Roxas opposed could not be the reason why Binay is leading over him in the ARMM in particular. Drilon, who aggressively opposed the agreement with Roxas, placed in ARMM’s Magic 12, he said. (abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak)