MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) - Vice-President-elect Jejomar Binay finally met with President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III Wednesday at his Times Street residence in Quezon City.
It was the first time for the two to meet after their proclamation by Congress on June 9.
Binay arrived on Times Street around 1:15 p.m. and emerged more than an hour later. He told media outside the gates of Aquino's residence that the meeting was social and cordial.
When asked who proposed the meeting, Binay said that matter wasn't important. He added that the meeting was something he and Aquino had discussed a long time ago.
"Basta kami nag-meeting, ayos na yun," Binay said.
Binay became evasive when asked if he had been offered a Cabinet portfolio or if he will lead a commission probing the Arroyo administration. "Tingnan na lang muna natin ang mga darating na araw," he said.
Binay a burden?
A statement from his office later said the vice-president-elect had told Aquino that he would decline any Cabinet position "so as not to burden the president and allow him to focus on the many challenges facing the nation."
ABS-CBN News obtained a copy of Binay's June 21 letter to Aquino.
In his letter, Binay thanked Aquino for including him in his short list for secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
However, he asked Aquino to remove his name from the list and "from any other list of nominees for the Cabinet."
He said it was important that Aquino's official family "be able to work as a team."
Binay said it was clear that since he was not a member of the Liberal Party, or of any other group that supported the Aquino-Roxas tandem, he would "not be treated as a member of the team" and would only be seen as "disruptive" to the "existing relations among the members of the incoming official family."
He said he would not want to add to the difficulties the new government would have to face, "specially during its "crucial early stages."
'Never insisted on DILG'
Binay also said he never insisted that he be appointed secretary of the DILG.
"...I would like to put in its proper context, the matter of my supposed insistence that I be appointed to the DILG, a matter that has been blown out of proportion and has attracted negative comments from some quarters, among them your supporters," Binay said.
"When I stated my preference for the DILG, I was merely speaking from the point of view of how I can best contribute to your administration. Likewise, I was responding to the media's question on my preference should I be appointed in your Cabinet. Sadly, it has been misinterpreted and misrepresented as an imposition and motivated by politics. Indeed that is malicious and an outright falsehood. It also shows that partisanship, which should now be abandoned in favor of nation building, continues to be a motivating force among some quarters," he added.
The vice-president-elect was seen to have been very vocal about his aspiration to head the DILG, but Aquino said he was considering several people for the post, including Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, a Ramon Magsasay awardee.
Aquino earlier said that he will meet and discuss with Binay his possible appointment to a Cabinet post.
Pickets outside Aquino home
On Wednesday morning, members of the party-list group Gabriela held a picket outside Aquino's residence and urged the president-elect to release all female political prisoners and haul outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to jail.
Members of the PAL Employees Association (PALEA) also picketed near the residence, but unlike Gabriela, with just about 20 members, PALEA wasn't allowed in front of the house and was just allowed to picket some meters away.
The PALEA asked Aquino to intervene in an ongoing labor dispute with the Philippine Airlines management. -- with reports Maricar Bautista and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News