SONNY FOR BINAY
“For now, I am for Binay.”
This was the statement of Toledo City Mayor John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña who introduced Vice President Jejomar Binay as the “next president of the country” to the crowd of supporters present in his kickoff rally at the Toledo public plaza.
Binay, standard-bearer of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), flew to Cebu yesterday to attend separate rallies, one in Toledo City organized by Osmeña and another in Cebu City with allies led by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, standard-bearer of PDP Laban, will also be in Toledo City on Saturday, April 2.
Osmeña admitted that had Duterte “emerged earlier, I wouldn’t have made a commitment to Binay.”
Osmeña said he granted the “small favor” asked by Duterte — to meet him in his office, to organize a rally and to take care of the sound system.
Asked if he would be present on stage with Duterte, he replied: “We will have to discuss that. The Dutertes and the Osmeñas have a very, very long history of pakikisama. Our friendship goes beyond the presidential elections,” he added.
A text message from Osmeña to CDN said, “Yes, I am asked to organize and spend for the Duterte rally on Saturday to give the family friend the opportunity to be heard for the people of Toledo City.”
Osmeña raised Binay’s hands on stage together with other UNA candidates yesterday.
After he was dumped by One Cebu led by gubernatorial bet Winston Garcia, Binay apparently wanted to prove that he still had supporters in vote-rich Cebu.
DIRECT TO THE PEOPLE
The Vice President also implied that he did not need the support of local leaders because he brought his campaign directly to the people.
“Ang kampanya ko ay diretso sa tao. Hindi naman ako umaasa lang sa mga kakamping politiko pero sa karanasan ko, walang kapalit yung kampanyang diretso sa tao. Hindi yung dinadaan pa kung kaninong leader,” read a transcript of an interview of Binay at Lantaw SRP yesterday, distributed by the Binay camp.
(I am campaigning directly to the people. I am not relying only on political allies, but in my experience, there is nothing that compares to campaigning directly to the people, and not go through leaders.)
Last Monday, Osmeña said he and Binay had not agreed on any endorsement during the rally. But when the Vice President arrived in Toledo, he was warmly welcomed by Osmeña.
Interviewed after the rally, Osmeña said, “I have not endorsed anybody except Binay.”
“As of now, Binay ko. To me, it’s a matter of honor. I am not a balimbing (turncoat). I have never been a balimbing. I have always stood for my commitments,” he said.
In a text message to CDN, Osmeña added that supporting administration bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas” is “out of the question.” As for aspirant Grace Poe Llamanzares, Osmeña said, “I have serious concerns regarding her residency.”
SUPPORT FOR DUTERTE
Lawyer Rex Fernandez, Duterte’s campaign manager for Cebu, confirmed that Duterte would pay a courtesy call on Mayor Osmeña on Saturday.
Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco, who heads Duterte’s campaign nationwide, said part of their campaign activities is really to do courtesy calls on incumbent leaders.
“But we still don’t know what they are going to talk about. We will just have to wait and see,” Evasco said.
Fernandez also clarified that so far, there have been no talks between Duterte’s camp and that of Osmeña’s for a possible alliance.
But Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy said the possibility of a Duterte-Osmeña alliance is very real.
“He (Osmeña) is a smart politician and he is aware of the Duterte wave, so he has to ride with the wave,” Sitoy said.
Sitoy, who is affiliated with the Liberal Party but is supporting Duterte’s presidential bid, claims to be a good friend of both Duterte and Osmeña.
Although he admitted he is not privy to any discussions between his two friends, Osmeña, being a “smart politician,” would eventually have to listen to the people’s sentiments.
Binay arrived past 3 p.m. at the Toledo public plaza and spoke for about 12 minutes where he promised to put up an airport in Barangay Arpili in the neighboring town of Balamban and an international port in Barangay Dumlog in Toledo.
He said he planned to reopen the Malacañang sa Sugbo in Cebu City because he intended to put up an Office of the President in Cebu so he could personally monitor big infrastructure projects for the province.
It was during the Arroyo administration when the old Customs Building, built in 1910 near Pier 1, was transformed into Office of the President in the South in 2004.
But the Aquino administration never used the Malacañang sa Sugbo, prompting Mayor Rama to describe it as “ghost building.” Osmeña said the two projects mentioned by Binay were the ones he wanted for Toledo.
Binay shared the stage with Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia of the 3rd district who belonged to One Cebu during Osmeña’s kick off rally. The two hugged on stage. With
Binay were four of his senatorial lineup – Jacel Kiram, Allan Montaño, Getulio Napeñas and Rey Langit.
In her speech, the congresswoman assured that she would remain with United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) despite the decision of her brother Winston to sever ties with the national party.
From Toledo, Binay proceeded to Cebu City to attend the proclamation rally of Team Rama headed by Mayor Rama at Plaza Independencia in downtown Cebu City at 8 p.m.
Mayor Osmeña may have declared his support for Binay but will support the vice presidential bid of Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, who is running under the Liberal Party, calling her “the darling of my heart” and described her as a “nice lady.”
Osmeña will, however, not be supporting any gubernatorial candidate but will support the bid of Nerissa Soon-Ruiz for vice governor.
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