President has open mind on 2016 bet – Palace official
THERE is yet no guarantee that President Benigno Aquino 3rd will endorse Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas as the standard bearer of the Liberal Party (LP) for the 2016 elections, a Palace official said on Thursday.
The official said Aquino maintains an “open mind” on who to support as presidential candidate, admitting that the bet “may come from anywhere.” He made the statement following reports that the President had a closed door meeting with the Vice President on Tuesday night.
The Palace official, who asked not to be identified because he was not allowed ot talk on such matters, said it is too early for Aquino to make a decision on who to endorse for 2016.
“There are a lot of things that may happen between now and late next year. That would be the most crucial time for the president to make a decision. Or, it may even come earlier than expected. It really depends on things to come,” the source pointed out.
A political analyst also said the meeting between Aquino and Binay is “bad news” for Roxas.
According to Ramon Casiple, efforts to identify Binay as a nemesis of the Aquino administration appears to have no effect because the one-on-one meeting between Aquino and Binay clearly shows their strong relationship.
“Definitely, it [meeting is bad news for Mar [Roxas]and NP [Nacionalista Party] in so far as efforts to separate the two [Aquino and Binay] are concerned. Although no one knows what the two talked about, it is clear that they are cordial to each other,” Casiple said in an interview.
The analyst said the two officials may have talked about sensitive matters which none of them would divulge to the public at this time.
“My guess is that the president promised not to intervene in the presidential contest and that he will not endorse yet anybody,” Casiple told the Times.
“Roxas loses,” he emphasized.
The meeting, Casiple said, clearly shows that the demolition job against the vice president, particularly the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee hearing on the supposed overpriced Makati City hall Building 2, is a dud.
Apart from failing to isolate the vice president, the meeting also indicate that the President is still open to Binay and that Aquino has not yet made any decision on who to endorse in 2016 which is disadvantageous on the part of Roxas.
“I think the only way for Mar [Roxas] to win is if he gets the endorsement of the President,” Casiple added.
It also shows that Aquino is not really one hundred percent behind Roxas, further strengthening the possibility that the President may endorse Binay in 2016, he added.
When asked if Roxas has an edge of getting Aquino’s endorsement, being a partymate of the President, Casiple said the political system in the country is not strong enough to oblige an outgoing president to pick a successor from among his partymates.
He explained that the notion that Aquino would pick Roxas as his successor was based on the situation in 2009 where the latter, who was poised to run for president in 2010, gave way to then Senator Aquino.
The political analyst believes that while the president allows Roxas to be visible and but that should not be interpreted as an endorsement.
Binay refused to reveal the purpose of his meeting with the president but said they “talked as friends” and that they discussed “no politics or problems.”
“Our friendship remains strong. It has been a friendship up to issues of life and death and it has been tried. In fact, our friendship is even becoming stronger,” the vice president said.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. also said the relationship between Aquino and Binay remains the same.
“The president expressed his views about it when he was in Bali [Indonesia] last October 10. There he made it clear,” he pointed out.
“They’ve known each other for a long time so that it is only normal that they meet away from the public spotlight,” Coloma further explained.
Another source said Roxas has up to the third quarter of 2015 to prove that he has at least a “fighting chance” in the next presidential polls before he could get Aquino’s anointment.
The source, who had previously worked with Roxas, said the Interior chief and his supporters should prove Roxas’ “winnability” “before October next year.”
She said the third quarter “deadline” is crucial for the LP to determine who among its members should be the standard bearer in the next polls.
“This is no longer a secret. It has been going around for a while now. If you would observe, the last survey of Pulse Asia indicated that Roxas is only second to Binay if elections were held today,” the former official of a top government agency told The Manila Times.
He was referring to the third quarter 2014 Ulat ng Bayan survey on presidential wannabes which showed Binay shedding ten percentage points from June to only 31 percent in September. On the other hand, Roxas gained six percentage points to get 13 percent in the same survey.
The Makati City Hall building 2 controversy appeared to have caused a slide in Binay’s ratings as the survey was conducted at the height of the Senate investigations into the matter. Binay’s camp has since then blamed a “smear job” against him plotted by the LP and Roxas’ camp as the root cause of the scandal, including allegations that he owns a vast farm in Batangas province.
“So, by the middle of next year and until before next October, Roxas must climb to a rating that is competitive enough,” the source explained.
Binay, of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), remains to be the most formidable presidential candidate.