Noy: No Binay for me

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III said  Thursday  he will not endorse Vice President Jejomar Binay in next year’s presidential elections, but said he would talk to  Senator Francis Escudero about his plans for 2016.

In Iloilo for the Independence Day celebration, Aquino reacted to Binay’s statement  Wednesday  that he was still hoping to receive the President’s endorsement for next year’s election.

In a press briefing, Aquino said he did not believe Binay was serious, and pointed out that they have been on different sides of the political fence since the 2010 elections.

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III
He also confirmed that he had met independent Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday about the need for the next president to continue his administration’s straight path policy.

The Palace has kept the President’s meetings with possible presidential contenders under wraps.

Although he has said Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II is on top of his list, Aquino has also been scouting for other candidates that he might endorse for president or vice president.

“Hahanapin ko rin ‘yung kumpare kong si Chiz Escudero next week, kailangan ko rin naman siyang makausap  (I will find my good friend [Francis] Escudero next week. We need to talk to him),” said Aquino.

Aquino said after the process of talking to all possible contenders is done, he will make his position clear to all parties concerned after his last State of the Nation Address.

“I have a role in a personal capacity, I also have a role as a head of a coalition of so many different parties that one would want to preserve... So I cannot speak out of turn. I would like to give due respect to all the parties concerned whether as individuals or even as formal political parties that we conclude our discussions before making our own announcement,” Aquino said.

Earlier, Aquino said Roxas was on top of his list of possible presidential candidates for 2016. from the Liberal Party.

Roxas, who has fared poorly in most opinion polls, has yet to announce if he will run for president next year.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, also an LP member and Aquino’s senior political adviser, said the President has given LP members the go-signal to go all out in supporting Roxas in his expected run for the 2016 elections.

Liberal Party vice chairman, Senate President Franklin Drilon, said Aquino will not endorse a candidate from outside the party, even though he had met twice with independent Senator Grace Poe.

“I think it’s just wishful thinking, and it will not happen that the President will endorse a candidate who is not from Liberal Party,” said Drilon,

Aquino had earlier said he will announce the party’s presidential ticket after he delivers his last State of the Nation Address on  July 27.

“The President said he would announce his endorsement, and for now, let it stand that way,” said Drilon, who said he didn’t know what transpired during Aquino’s meeting with Poe at the Palace  Wednesday.

Poe confirmed to reporters her second meeting with the President, but said no offer was made for her to run either for president or vice president.

But Poe said it was clear to her that Aquino is pursuing candidates whom he will support in the upcoming elections.

Poe, the No. 1 senator in the last elections, is also doing well in election surveys for the voters’ preference for the next president and vice president.

During Aquino’s first meeting with Poe, the President told the senator the LP is looking for an “alternative candidate” who can continue his straight path program and his campaign against corruption.

Asked to comment on Drilon’s statement  Thursday, Poe said: “If they are not open to a non-LP member, that’s their policy.”

When pressed if her being an independent candidate was non-negotiable, Poe said she felt her independence allowed her to take certain positions without being constrained by a particular party.

“I think that our countrymen will appreciate it more if you maintain your independence. At this point, I think it’s too politically expedient just for the upcoming elections to swear in to a particular party,” she added.

Former senator Panfilo Lacson, who also has expressed his presidential ambitions, said the LP should not look at its members exclusively. – With Macon Ramos-Araneta

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