A member of the Binay camp on Wednesday confirmed that the United Nationalist Alliance had already formed a new political party for Vice President Jejomar Binay’s presidential bid in the 2016 national elections.
In a phone interview, UNA spokesman and Navotas representative Toby Tiangco said that UNA, formerly a coalition, will be officially converted to a “stand-alone party” for the opposition.
“The organization meeting that we held earlier is a pre-requisite before we file petition for accreditation of UNA as a party to the Commission on Elections,” he said.
Tiangco said that the formation of UNA as a political party was one of the steps to strengthen the position of the opposition in preparation for Binay’s Presidential candidacy in 2016.
He said that part of the requirements of the Comelec is to organize first the members of the party, prepare the necessary documents to be submitted to the poll body.
After the Comelec approves the petition, that is the time UNA will hold an election of officers and officially announce, thereafter.
During the organizational meeting, Tiangco said that he was selected as the interim president of UNA; Senator Gringo Honasan as Vice President; JV Bautista as secretary general; and Gary Teves as treasurer.
Tiangco said that UNA’s legal counsel are now completing all necessary documents and requirements needed and would hopefully submitted these to the Comelec “within this week”.
The Congressman also clarified that the UNA party would retain its alliance with the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino led by former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and suspended Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.
In Malacanang, officials said the administration was too busy to be bothered or threatened by opposition groups including Binay’s new United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) party.
“Why will we be threatened? We’re focused on governance right now,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
“I mean, some people would like to talk about 2016 but, we’re focused on governance. We still have 640-plus days left. We’ve got so much work to do. We’ve got so much reforms that we need to advance,” he said.
When asked if Aquino’s Liberal Party will soon announce its standard bearer, Lacierda said, the President will announce it at the “proper time.”
Meanwhile, Tiangco said that before the organization’s meeting, he sought Estrada’s advice on what would be the name of the new party.
He said that the former President suggested that they retain the name UNA as political party.
UNA was formed as a coalition on June 12, 2013 with its partner the PMP and its party the PDP-Laban.
Binay is a longtime member of the PDP-Laban but in January, he announced that he would resign from the party due to “differences” with its president Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.
The “differences” came after UNA included former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, Pimentel’s political rival, as one of its 12 Senatorial candidates in May 2013.
Pimentel thereafter refused to run under UNA and decided to join the Administration’s Senatorial slate.
Pimentel later filed an election protest against Zubiri for allegedly rigging the votes in his (Zubiri’s) favor.
Zubiri then resigned from the Senate in 2011 after an investigation showed that he indeed benefitted from electoral fraud in 2007. He, however, denied that he had anything to do with the alleged voting fraud.
Meanwhile, Binay’s net worth jumped to P60.11 million in 2013, a big leap from the P2.5 million when he was elected as mayor of Makati in 1988.
But Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla said Binay’s increase in net worth came from income from a piggery farm, a flower shop business, disposition of real properties and excess campaign contributions during the 2010 elections amounting to P13 million.
“The Vice President was asked by a group if he is willing to undergo a lifestyle check, he said ‘anytime,’ and anytime is now. We went ahead to present them instead of waiting for the right time,” Remulla said.
“Everything is accounted for. We have 100 percent accountability for VP Binay,” Remulla said in a press conference.
The Office of the Vice President publicly disclosed Binay’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) amid allegations he benefited from the construction of the over-priced Makati City hall when he was mayor. The advocacy group United Makati Against Corruption called on Binay and his family to undergo a lifestyle check.
Binay and his wife, Elenita, had a consolidated income of P88.11 million from 1986 to 2013, and paid taxes amounting to P23.05 million. Binay has been filing his SALN and Income Tax Return every year.
Remulla said Binay has sold his old house in San Antonio Village, Makati and real properties in Alabang Hills; Cupang, Muntinlupa; Tunasan, San Pedro, Laguna; Cabagan, Isabela; San Pascual, Batangas; and Bataan.
Binay’s legal counsel Princess Turgano said the vice president started his piggery business in 1994 under the name JCB Farms and from 1994 to 2010 it generated an income of P44.35 million, where he paid more than P15 million in taxes.
“JCB Farms is duly registered in the Bureau of Internal Revenue Rosario, Batangas office,” she said.
Another Binay legal counsel, Martin Subido, said JCB Farms was a mere lessee of a nine-hectare property in Rosario, Batangas but it introduced improvements, which was duly reported its annual audited financial statements.
Remulla denied that Binay owned a 400-hectare property and challenged his critics to prove his ownership because he was willing to give it away.
“Some critics said that he allegedly has 400 hectares. Well, that’s not true. He only has a nine-hectare leased property, at least and … we are willing to show the contract between lessor and leaser,” he said.
When Binay won as Vice President, he had excess campaign contributions amounting to P13,451,711 from his P231,480,000 campaign funds, which he received from donors, Remulla said.
He added that in 2010, the Comelec had no ruling about excess contributions as subject to taxes, and candidates can take home the savings from their campaign fund expenses.
“At that time, the BIR did not require that it was income rather than excess campaign contributions. There is a difference between donation and income. In 2013, it was counted as donation. But the Vice President is always willing to submit to the BIR,” Remulla said.
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