Thursday, April 22, 2010

Escudero all out for ‘Noy-Bi’ (Roxas denies blocking Chiz ad on Binay)

By Alcuin Papa,
Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.,
Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:03:00 04/22/2010

Filed Under: Inquirer Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Benigno Aquino III, Gender Issues

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—Ang Ladlad, which aspires to be the first gay group in Asia to hold a legislative office, on Wednesday endorsed Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, but not his running mate, Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.

Ladlad is supporting Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, vice presidential candidate of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

The “Noy-Bi” combination is also being pushed by Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who earlier backed out of the presidential race.

Escudero was instrumental in securing Ang Ladlad’s support for Aquino and Binay, according to the group’s chair Danton Remoto.

Reached for comment in Cagayan de Oro City, Aquino said this was not the time to get jealous especially with interest groups endorsing candidates from different parties, such as the Noy-Bi pairing.

“We have to be more open-minded. This is not the time to harbor ill feelings. We can’t afford to be ill-tempered. There is no point in that. We have to be calm especially in the last few days when the nightmare scenarios could happen. We cannot be hotheaded,” Aquino said at a press conference.

He said he had assured supporters that Roxas remained his vice presidential candidate. “If I can’t convince (a supporter to back up Roxas), I told Mar he should look for others. In the same token, if there is someone who only likes Mar, I have to find others for me,” Aquino said.

The LP standard-bearer said he had taken up the matter with Roxas. “We are transparent on this,” he added.

‘That’s democracy’

Aquino said he asked Roxas if there was an issue on this about commitment. “There may be areas where Mar has a long-standing relationship (with somebody else) but I will never object to the support he is getting,” he said.

Roxas said he was cool to Ang Ladlad’s decision not to go solid LP. “That is the point of democracy.”

As to the similar endorsements made by Escudero, Roxas said: “I am friends with Senator Chiz. We have different political views. I am glad that he is supporting my candidate for president, and for me that is enough.”

“For me, what is most important is that all powers for Senator Noynoy will join forces,” Roxas added.

Aquino said Escudero was his kumpare and one of his closest friends. He said they have been together through many issues when they were both members of the House of the Representatives, including the impeachment case against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“It’s a huge thing to get an endorsement from a friend,” Aquino added. “But I’ve always asked the members of my coalition to focus on one goal and that is bringing about change after nine years of the Arroyo government.”

At a press conference in Quezon City, Remoto said Ang Ladlad considered Aquino the “Mr. Clean of Philippine politics.”

Remoto added that the group also admired Binay for his stand as a human rights lawyer during the Marcos dictatorship and for his pro-poor programs in Makati.

Remoto ran unsuccessfully for a seat in Congress under Binay’s PDP-Laban party and has been a card-carrying member of the party.

Binay was a loyal supporter of Noynoy’s mother, the late former President Cory Aquino. Both men had adopted her trademark campaign color, yellow, in casting their own political image.

Asked why the group did not pick Aquino’s running mate, Remoto said Roxas’ campaign was “too slow” in responding to Ang Ladlad’s request for support.

Remoto once worked for Roxas as a communications consultant. “Mar is a kind and decent man and we are still friends. But we had to make up for lost time,” he said.

Roxas blocking ad?

Binay does not mind if the TV ad showing Escudero endorsing his candidacy for vice president remains off the air. Roxas is reportedly blocking Escudero’s ad endorsing Binay.

As far as Binay is concerned, half the battle against Roxas, who has been leading poll surveys in the vice presidential race, is already won.

“They’re just making me even more popular,” the Makati mayor running with former President Joseph Estrada’s PMP told the Inquirer on the phone Wednesday.

“Are we upset? We’re not upset. We’re secretly happy that it has caused this furor,” Binay’s spokesperson Lito Anzures added.

Binay’s camp had apparently received reports that Roxas was keeping a TV station from airing the Escudero endorsement of the mayor.

In the 30-second ad, Escudero is shown “enumerating the good points of Jojo Binay,” such as his humble beginnings and his track record as a longtime local government official, according to Anzures.

Binay said he had not seen the ad, but was told about it by Escudero last week.

Roxas denies the accusation.

“Senator Escudero has every right to endorse any candidate he wants. He is not a member of LP and thus not bound by party discipline,” Roxas said in a text message.

Escudero has also been quietly working as a key member of Binay’s campaign team, which does not necessarily sit well with some supporters of Estrada.

Escudero is backing Aquino despite his being the spokesperson of the late Fernando Poe Jr. in the 2004 presidential election. Poe was a close friend of Estrada.

Asked about this arrangement in a recent interview, Estrada said: “That’s politics.”

Anzures said the attention being generated by the Escudero ad would only work to the advantage of Binay, who was locked in third place in surveys.

Major threat

“Even assuming the worst that the endorsement would never come out, at least, it has been talked about already, thanks to media people,” Anzures said. “It has done its damage already. But, of course, it would still be better if it would be aired.”

Assuming that Roxas and the LP were indeed blocking the ad, he said it would show that Binay was considered a major threat.

“It’s not surprising for them to try to stop it,” Binay’s spokesperson said. “They feel now who their real opponent is. We’re gaining ground.”

Original Story:

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