• Who set up Aquino-Binay meeting? Nobody’s talking

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    PRESIDENTIAL Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Friday belied published reports (not in The Manila Times) that he arranged last Tuesday’s meeting between President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Vice President Jejomar Binay.

    In a statement released to Palace reporters, Coloma said he had no involvement in the meeting or had arranged the same.

    “It was mentioned that I arranged the meeting between President Aquino and Vice President Binay. I would like to state that I have no involvement in the meeting between the President and the Vice President on October 14,” he added.

    When asked on who could have possibly set up the meeting, Coloma replied that he had “no information on that.”

    The office of Malacañang’s  Chief of Protocol, Celia Anna Feria, however, is the one “regulating official visits [made]and events [attended]” by the President.

    The Tuesday night meeting came at a time when the Vice President had been under fire from his perceived rivals in the 2016 race for the presidency over his family’s allegedly ill-gotten wealth.

    It was seen as the President apparently reassuring Binay of his support amid the political attacks on the Vice President.

    The meeting was seen, too, as  Aquino also apparently telling the Vice President  that Malacañang has nothing to do with such attacks on Binay.

    In his previous briefings, Coloma made no mention about the three-hour meeting between the two top officials, saying details of the meeting that he knew of were only those that had been reported in the media.

    “I did not prepare or issue any press release regarding the meeting. On the days after the meeting, I simply answered questions from Malacañang reporters pertaining to the meeting as part of my official duties,” the Palace official explained.

    Coloma clarified that he knew nothing about matters discussed by the two officials except that “there was nothing official” about them.

    “No official matter was discussed during the meeting. On the part of the Cabinet, we are only focused on priorities on reforms and further improving the economy,” he told reporters.

    Coloma said the relationship between Aquino and Binay is unchanged.

    “The President expressed his views about it when he was in Bali [ndonesia]last October 10. There, he made it clear,” he pointed out.

    Coloma said the two officials had been friends “even before Corazon “Cory” Aquino [the incumbent leader’s mother]became President” in 1986.

    Mrs. Aquino died in 2009.

    “There are numerous times that they [Aquino and Binay]  shake hands in official functions. They’ve known each other for a long time,  so  it is only normal that they meet away from the public spotlight,” he added.

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