A Binay-Marcos alliance in the homestretch?

Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., and Vice President Jejomar Binay

LUCENA CITY—The campaign streamers of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the standard-bearer of United Nationalist Alliance, and Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., a Nacionalista Party member who is running for vice president of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, were prominently displayed on the stage of the Quezon Convention Center here during a gathering of Southern Tagalog village leaders on Saturday.

No campaign poster of Binay’s running mate, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, was displayed in the venue, leading people who attended the event to ask if Binay had dropped him as his running mate.

But former Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, one of the organizers of the event, said the joint rally of the two candidates belonging to different parties was arranged by senatorial candidate and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, Marcos’ first cousin.

“It was requested by Representative Romualdez,” said Suarez, one of Binay’s closest political advisers.
When pressed further, Suarez, the leader of one of the political clans in Quezon, said this did not mean that his family had shifted its support from Honasan to Marcos.

But he said the seeming political alliance between Binay and Marcos had the tacit approval of Honasan.
Quoting Honasan, Suarez said: “I don’t mind to be a dead hero basta’t manalo lang si VP Binay. Anything basta’t manalo lang si Jojo (as long as Vice President Binay wins. Anything to make Jojo win).”

“He (Honasan) doesn’t mind a Binay-Bongbong campaign rally. We have an understanding with Greg,” Suarez said.

He said Honasan understood that a Binay-Marcos pairing would be a “more popular tandem, and there is a possibility that if Bongbong will join Binay, it will help [boost his campaign].”

Facing reporters, Suarez said he would support UNA.

“UNA is still UNA. We carry the banner of the Vice President,” he said.

He said Marcos’ presence was a result of a clamor of local political leaders who asked him that they be given a chance to listen to Marcos’ programs.

While Marcos and Binay attended the general assembly of barangay leaders in Calabarzon here, they did not appear on stage together.

Marcos was the first to show up on stage together with Romualdez shortly before noon. They were joined by Suarez, the former House minority floor leaders who is running unopposed in Quezon’s third congressional district, and his son, reelectionist Gov. David Suarez.

When Suarez presented Marcos to the assembly of more than 4,000 delegates, he introduced the senator as the “next vice president of the Philippines.”

After his speech, Marcos held a press conference in a room separate from where Binay and UNA senatorial candidate Manny Pacquiao were resting before they faced the assembly.

Binay and Pacquiao appeared on stage, together with the Suarez father and son, at past 1:30 p.m.
Marcos told the Inquirer that he knew nothing about the supposed Binay-Marcos alliance.

“I don’t know about that,” he said with a chuckle.

However, he cited an instance when Honasan had supposedly confided to him that “kahit anong kailangan niyang gawin para manalo si Vice President Binay ay gagawin niya (he will do anything that will help Vice President Binay win).”

But Marcos said he was still supporting the bid of Santiago. “Senator Santiago is my candidate for president. And it will never change,” he said.

Marcos strongly denied the impression of an emerging tactical alliance between him and Binay.
“[While] I’m also seeking the support of his allies, I’m also thankful that there are other politicians from other parties who are supporting my candidacy,” Marcos said.

In an interview after the event, Binay told reporters that he was not deserting Honasan.

When asked, Binay said he did not need to explain anything to Honasan.

“Sa simula’t-simula, kahit anong spin ng balita, sinasabi ko kay Senator Honasan, ako ay hindi marunong mang-iwan ng kasama. Magkasama tayo sa hirap at ginhawa (Since the start of this campaign, and whatever spin the news may take, I have been telling Senator Honasan that I am the type of person who does not abandon my companions. We will be together, for better or worse),” Binay said.

Suarez said unlike big political clans in Cebu and Cavite provinces who deserted Binay and shifted their support for the candidacy of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, “the Suarez political clan will stick [it out] with VP Binay, all the way.”

“We will deliver the Quezon votes to UNA,” he said.

When asked about the support of his erstwhile allies, the Remullas, for Duterte, Binay said he and members of the Remulla family remained friends.

While he has yet to talk to the Remullas, he said he respected their decision. “Pulitika lang ito, eleksyon (This is politics and it’s the election season),” he said.

Pacquiao, speaking before the assembly, also vowed to stay with Binay, who he described as a candidate with a track record and who could deliver on his promise to uplift the lives of the poor.

“Because I believe that just like my goal, Vice President Binay is truly sincere in alleviating the plight of most Filipinos,” Pacquiao said.

In an interview with reporters, Pacquiao, who is among the front-runners in pre-election