By Delon Porcalla
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Budget Secretary Florencio Abad clarified that it is not fair to compare President Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay as political endorsers.
He said that while Binay enjoys the people’s trust and confidence more than Aquino, comparing who between them is a better political endorser would not be fair.
“They are on a different plane. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. I don’t think you could compare the endorsement value of VP Binay and P-Noy,” Abad said.
The latest Pulse Asia survey conducted from Feb. 26 to March 9, showed Binay, current head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, had emerged as the top political endorser for the May 2013 senatorial elections.
The survey showed that seven out of 10 or 73 percent of respondents would vote for senatorial candidates endorsed by Binay, an official of the PDP-Laban party that recently forged a coalition with former President Joseph Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino. The new coalition is called the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
In defending Aquino, who also enjoys massive popularity ratings among the masses and across the political spectrum, Abad noted that the President is more exposed to brickbats borne out of government policies he is implementing almost on a daily basis.
“P-Noy makes decisions practically every day about diverse issues – from local to international – that affect the lives of various sectors of our society,” Abad pointed out.
He said Aquino “exposes himself everyday to all possible criticisms and reactions because of leadership positions he has to make,” like adverse commentaries from politicians, particularly the opposition, as well as media in general.
“In other words, as far as people are concerned, he is a known leadership quantity. And so our people are aware that P-Noy’s decisions carry consequences, sometimes life-and-death consequences,” he said.
“So P-Noy has to be extremely careful and circumspect and his decisions have to be deeply informed. That is also the case with endorsing policies, positions on issues and even candidates for office,” Abad added, referring to the LP senatorial slate in 2013.
Unfortunately, such “is not the case with VP Binay.”
Pulse Asia reported that 66 percent of the respondents said they would vote for candidates endorsed by President Aquino, while 51 percent would choose personalities supported by Estrada.
Only seven percent, however, would elect candidates backed by former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
A majority or 82 percent of Filipinos are “probably not” or “surely not” voting for any senatorial bet endorsed by Arroyo.
The Pulse Asia survey used a sample of 1,200 representative adults. It utilized a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.
Binay said the trust given to him by Aquino made him a top endorser for Senate bets.
“The trust of the President (in) me is very much clear in the work that he made me do,” he said.
Binay is also a presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers and concurrent chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).
Meanwhile, the President visited yesterday Binay’s office at the Coconut Palace in Pasay City, after delivering a speech about overseas Filipino workers at nearby Sofitel Hotel.
The two highest officials of the land both attended the 2nd Ministerial Meeting of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD II) at the five-star hotel, where Aquino mentioned to Binay that he had no idea what the Coconut Palace looked like.
“I don’t think we can call it a meeting. They were on stage together and the President mentioned to the Vice President that he had never been to the Coconut Palace,” said Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ricky Carandang.
Carandang said Binay’s office was renovated in mid-2011 and Aquino had not yet seen the vice president’s office.
He said Binay invited the President to his office and the visit was only a social call.
Carandang brushed aside insinuations the meeting had something to do with the May 2013 senatorial elections, where Binay will be fielding his own senatorial slate.
“They didn’t discuss any issue while the President was there at the Coconut Palace,” Carandang said.
There were reports that rent for the Coconut Palace cost taxpayers P400,000 a month, which is half the amount the Office of the Vice President used to spend by leasing offices at the PNB Financial Center in Pasay City.
Total rent in PNB amounted to P750,000 monthly.
Renovation of the Coconut Palace – which former first lady Imelda Marcos built during the term of the late President Ferdinand Marcos – reportedly cost more than P1 million.
The Coconut Place’s former library at the ground floor was converted into Binay’s office, where he receives visitors.
On its second floor, the Bicol room was converted into Binay’s private quarters. Outside, the rectangular pool was renovated, too. There is also a receiving room for visiting dignitaries and other guests. A separate room was made for Binay’s staff.