MANILA, Philippines - Former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has again endorsed Vice President Jejomar Binay as his presidential bet for the 2016 elections.
At the launching of former House Deputy Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella’s book in Tigaon, Camarines Sur yesterday, Estrada raised Binay’s hand as proof of his support for the latter’s presidential bid in 2016.
Binay said he is always sure of Estrada’s “all-out” support as they have been friends since the mayor was still active in show business.
He said Estrada’s endorsement proves that the latter is no longer eyeing the presidency.
Estrada was ousted in 2001 on corruption charges. He ran for president again in 2010 but placed second behind then Sen. Benigno Aquino III.
"Some people say that President Erap will run in 2016 or he will not support my candidacy, but these people forget that we have been friends for a very long time,” Binay said in an interview with dwNXin Naga City yesterday.
Binay has been leading the presidential surveys of Pulse Asia by wide margin.
Estrada, in a previous interview, said Binay would be able to overcome the political attacks against him and his family.
NO DECISION YET
Binay said yesterday he is still deciding whether or not he will attend the next hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee on various corruption allegations against him.
He told reporters in Naga City that his office has received a formal invitation of the committee but he will have to study it first.
The next hearing is scheduled on Nov. 6.
The Vice President was also asked if he is still willing to face Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV in a debate being organized by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).
“I was the one who challenged him to a debate. I will not back out,” he said.
The Vice President, however, said the tentative date of the debate was problematic as it was sandwiched between the birthdays of his wife Elenita and him on Nov. 9 and Nov. 11, respectively.
Binay said they usually have events on these occasions, including “De Colores” or long fellowships mounted by charismatic church-based groups for people marking their natal day.
“Of course you have to be prepared for it physically and mentally. That is my only concern,” he said.
Binay earlier rejected the invitation of the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee for him to attend hearings on the alleged overpricing of a parking building in Makati. The building was constructed during his term as city mayor.
Binay said the hearings were politically motivated and that the senators leading the probe – Senators Aquilino Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano – have prejudged him as being guilty.
LYING UNDER OATH
Meanwhile, the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), the political party of Binay, will ask the Senate Blue Ribbon committee to strike from the records the testimonies of former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado for lying under oath.
UNA officials said Mercado, during the committee’s hearing on Oct. 22, denied he was hospitalized and he would be willing to retract his testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee if they could prove that he was indeed hospitalized.
UNA officials earlier charged that Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II visited Mercado when he was hospitalized, which they said, validated reports that the whistle-blower was being run by the Liberal Party.
UNA interim secretary-general JV Bautista and interim president Toby Tiangco tried to present the evidence that Mercado was hospitalized at yesterday’s hearing but were prevented by Senators Pimentel, Trillanes and Cayateno from speaking.
The UNA officials instead presented the medical records to the Senate media after they were escorted out of the session hall by security personnel.
“They do not want us to appear before the committee and expose the truth about the nature and character of their witnesses,” Bautista said.