BALAYAN, Batangas: Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd and his running mate Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo has secured the backing of Eduardo Ermita, a trusted ally of former President Gloria Arroyo, for the May 2016 polls.
Ermita, who served as the Executive Secretary during the Arroyo administration from 2004 to 2010, welcomed Roxas and Robredo here on Wednesday alongside local bets–Balayan City Mayor Manny Fronda, Batangas Rep. Ellie Ermita-Buhain (Ermita’s daughter) and LP’s candidate for Batangas governor, Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste.
Fronda and Buhain are members of the Nacionalista Party headed by real estate magnate and former Senate President Manuel Villar Jr.
Ermita and the rest of the local candidates shared the stage with Roxas and Robredo, with Ermita’s daughter thanking Roxas for the firetrucks that her district received from the government during Roxas’ tenure as secretary of Department of Interior and Local Government.
He hailed Roxas as the “next President of the Philippines.”
Roxas, in his speech, also recognized Ermita for being his mentor when he was still a Capiz congressman in 1993.
Back then, Ermita was a Batangas congressman.
He was a member of the House of Representatives from 1992 to 2001, while Roxas was a Capiz representative from 1993 to 2000.
Ermita also a served as Defense secretary from 2003 to 2004 and the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from 1986 to 1988.
In their earlier stop in Dagupan City, Pangasinan, the tandem of Roxas and Robredo was also endorsed by a former Arroyo ally, five-time congressman and former House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.
Both Ermita and de Venecia used to be stalwarts of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats party wherein former President Arroyo remains the chairman emeritus.
Robredo, however, clarified that welcoming supporters from different camps does not mean compromising the good governance platform that she and Roxas are pushing for even if the Arroyo administration from 2001 to 2010 has been rocked by a string of corruption controversies, including the botched and overpriced $329-million or P13-billion NBN-ZTE broadband deal and the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.
“I don’t see conflict there. All kinds of support are welcome, but the important thing here is whatever kind of support it may be, our principles and convictions remain the same,” Robredo, whose husband Jesse was a recipient of the 2004 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Good Governance, said in Filipino.
“What is crucial here is that whoever and whatever kind of support that may be, that won’t affect our stand on issues and our supporters do not ask anything in return,” she added.