Vice President Jejomar C. Binay on Monday swore in new members to the United Nationalist Alliance from the provinces of Batangas and Batanes.
These include Batanes Gov. Vicente Gato and Engr. Nicanor Abad, the elder brother of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
Batanes is the home province of the budget secretary, a stalwart of the Liberal Party (LP). Gato ran under LP in the 2013 elections.
“Napakalaking bagay nito, lalong-lalo na sumumpa rito ay kapatid ni Secretary Butch Abad [This is a big deal, especially that the brother of Secretary Butch Abad swore in as a new member],” Binay said after the oath-taking.
Nicanor will be vying to represent the lone district of Batanes in next year’s elections, against his brother’s wife, Henedina, who currently occupies the post.
Binay is the chairman of UNA and the party’s standard bearer in the 2016 elections.
Asked if he considered the induction of the new members a “victory of UNA in Batanes” considering the province was a bulwark of LP, Binay replied, “probably yes, dahil last time natalo ang aming kandidato roon. Pero maliit lang ang margin [because in the last elections, our candidate lost. But only with a slim margin].”
Binay also said there were LP members who sent feelers that they wanted to join UNA, but they still had reservations because fear was still prevailing.
The Vice President added that there are others who want to join his political party but they were threatened that they will have to face charges, old cases will be uncovered and that those who stay with the party would be rewarded.
He added he believed more incumbent officials would take their oath and join UNA in the coming days, especially since the filing of certificates of candidacies grows closer.
Binay said they were looking for members who shared the same ideology as UNA.
“Ang hinahanap namin ay ‘yon bang pare-pareho kami ng paniniwala. Mahirap naman magsama-sama na iba-iba ng paniniwala. Sa aming mga pananalita sa ating mga kababayan, ay ‘yong mga maaasahan ng ating mga kababayan sa isang administrasyon na pinangungunahan ng partido UNA [What we are looking for are people who share our beliefs. It would be difficult for people with different beliefs to work together. What we are telling the people is that they can count on an administration that will be led by the UNA party],” he said.
Meanwhile, Engr. Abad said majority of the incumbent officials in Batanes are now with the opposition.
Over the weekend, Binay also swore in 12 new UNA officials from Bulacan, led by San Miguel Mayor Roderick Tiongson, who also ran under LP in the 2013 elections.