By Christina Mendez - Vice President Jejomar Binay is unfazed by the administration Liberal Party (LP)’s declaration that it is fielding Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II as its presidential candidate in the 2016 elections.

Binay pointed out that the presidential race is still three years away and the people are busy preparing for the midterm elections on May 13.

“Let us just take it as a statement coming from them, period,” Binay said on the sidelines of the 15th Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (Gopac) conference yesterday in Pasay City.

President Aquino, who delivered the keynote speech in the kickoff ceremonies at the Gopac event, exchanged pleasantries with Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. during the conference that was attended by about 400 lawmakers from various countries.

“Everybody has a right to be a candidate,” Binay added.

Sen. Franklin Drilon, LP campaign manager, had declared the other day that Roxas will be the party’s standard-bearer in 2016.

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Sen. Edgardo Angara, newly elected chairman and chief executive officer of the Gopac, expects the 2016 presidential elections to be a contest between two dominant political parties – the opposition and the administration.

But Angara said it is too early to identify other prospective bets.

Binay, who has declared his intention to run for president in 2016, also defended the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) from criticisms hurled by LP allies that they are riding on the popularity of President Aquino to retain their popularity ratings in surveys.

“But my survey ratings are also high. Much more when you put together the ratings of (former) President (Joseph) Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile,” Binay added, referring to his UNA co-founders who have been described as pillars of the opposition.

New opposition

Reacting to insinuations that UNA should show its true colors, Binay said in jest that “my amulet is brown, my political color,” apparently referring to his skin color.

Binay said he is also not so concerned with the plan of Lakas to field Sen. Ramon Revilla as presidential candidate.

The vice president also took potshots at critics who are saying that the political opposition should draw the line from the administration.

Binay said he respects the statement of presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on his opinion about UNA.

“There are no efforts to make President Aquino a lame duck president,” he added.

Binay said UNA is the “new opposition” that is supportive of President Aquino’s projects and programs.

“We will help him if we need to provide more suggestions on certain matters, but we will not hesitate in exposing or letting the public know what is really happening,” Binay said.

Unlike in the past when the political opposition engages the administration in black propaganda and personal attacks, Binay said the new opposition that he and UNA want to present is one that would be supportive of the President when necessary and critical if needed.

Binay reiterated yesterday that he has maintained a good working relationship with Aquino despite intrigues sowed by some groups.

“I even congratulated the President since the Philippines is now recognized internationally, because even beleaguered Syrian President Bashar Assad has turned to the Philippines for help,” Binay said.

Binay said that no less than the President has made it clear that they do not have any reason to sow intrigues against each other.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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