Why Escudero all the way for Binay, not Roxas
By Cathy C. Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—“Kulang sa kalyo,” Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero says of Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.
In plain talk, Roxas is a spring chicken, rather than a fighting cock.
That’s why, Escudero said in a television interview Thursday, he had decided to support Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, running mate of ex-President Joseph Estrada.
Binay fits Escudero’s idea of a vice president.
“Not someone rich, not an ‘ilustrado,’ one who is courageous, a man of honor and a genuine member of the opposition,” he told ANC’s Karen Davila.
Asked if his support for Binay was aimed at thwarting Roxas’ anticipated run for the presidency in 2016, the 40-year-old Escudero said, “I am nearsighted.”
“Why should I be making enemies this early? It’s not in my interest to draw the line this early if indeed that is on my mind,” he said.
Besides, Escudero said, the Aquino-Binay tandem would provide a better balance of governance. “One is from the legislature, while the other is an executive official.”
“Everyone says Noynoy comes from a rich family so it might be a good thing if his running mate does not come from another rich family. And since Noynoy purportedly lacks experience, his vice president should have a background to make up for this. I think they will complement each other,” Escudero said.
He said he had nothing against Roxas, scion of one of the country’s wealthiest families.
Escudero disappeared from the May election arena after he announced late last year he no longer was pursuing his presidential ambitions.
That was after he had a falling out with tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco.
The scuttlebutt then was that Cojuangco, head of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and regarded as a kingmaker, wasn’t going to finance Escudero’s drive to the presidency that had a so-called “entry barrier” of P5 billion.
Escudero then said that he wasn’t going to allow himself to be beholden to any political party and would await a ground swell that would catapult him to Malacañang.
The ground swell never happened and Escudero went into hibernation, reviled as a modern-day Icarus, the tragic Greek character who flew close to the sun on wings of wax and came crashing to earth a dead duck, sort of.
He had not been heard from since, until his communications team that was helping Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the Liberal Party presidential candidate, complained to media that it was having a hard time with Roxas.
The team had respectably handled Escudero’s campaign last year. He was among the favorites in the initial poll surveys of presidential wannabes. He had run away to fight another day—in the 2016 elections, possibly against Roxas.
Roxas leads poll surveys in the vice presidential race.
Essence of RP democracy
Last year, Roxas initiated moves to join the May 10 presidential race, but stepped aside for Aquino, who decided he wanted the presidency for himself after he saw the outpouring of grief upon the death of his mother, the former president Corazon Aquino.
Escudero said the TV ad, paid for by Binay’s friends, “should not be a cause for division or conflict within the LP.”
He said he had also taped another TV ad for Aquino that will be aired this week.
“There is no bloc voting in our laws. This is the essence of democracy; that each and every voter is allowed to choose who he wants to vote for for a particular office,” he said.
“I’m not saying that Senator Mar is not true opposition. I’m saying Mayor Binay has been with the opposition longer, has done many things and is not just a talker. Also he had not backed away from a fight as recent history had shown,” Escudero said in Filipino.
“Anyone who thinks that my ad is against a specific person, well, I do not spend all my waking hours just thinking about him,” said Escudero.
“There is no need for us to talk. I am not mad at him. I have no issues against him. Just because I do not support his candidacy does not mean I am mad at him,” Escudero said.
Not mad at Chiz
In an interview, Roxas also dismissed suggestions that Escudero’s endorsement had something to do with 2016.
“I’m not thinking about that,” Roxas said. “What I’m focusing on right now is how to ensure that Senator Noynoy wins so that we would get the chance to have real change in our country.”
Roxas said that Escudero had the right to endorse his choice of candidates. He also downplayed Escudero’s alleged dig against him in Escudero’s ad for Binay as “just politics.”
For united ticket
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, LP campaign manager, said:
“While we respect the decision of others to support a mixed ticket, we believe that for our nation to achieve real change we must have the strongest unity possible between the president and vice president.
“A united ticket is essential for us to effectively lead the nation out of the mess it is in. This is best served by ensuring the victory of both Noy and Mar in 2010.” With reports from Philip C. Tubeza and Gil C. Cabacungan