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Binay-Villar in 2016?

Is former Sen. Manny Villar the “businessman” being eyed by Vice President Jejomar C. Binay as his runningmate in 2016?

This cropped up yesterday after Binay’s office announced that Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, a prominent leader of Villar’s Nacionalista Party (NP), will become the vice president’s spokesman for political concerns.

While Remulla said that he has the “blessings” of Villar, he was quick to deny the former senator’s involvement in his joining the Binay camp, saying it was his personal decision to do so.

Binay, for his part, said he has good relations with Villar and his family.

Asked if Villar was the businessman he was referring to in previous statements, Binay just chuckled and said: “Secret”

Binay, who called for a press conference at the Coconut Palace in Pasay City to deny allegations of former Makati City vice mayor Ernesto Mercado against him, maintained that he has yet to choose a runningmate and everyone is still being considered. Remulla was present in the press conference.

Should the Binay-Villar tandem push through, it would be a twist of fate.

In 2010 when Villar ran for president, among those considered as his runningmate was Binay. As it turned out, Villar picked Sen. Loren Legarda as his runningmate, while Binay eventually became the vice presidential candidate of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.

SENATORIAL BETS

While Binay neither confirmed nor denied that Villar was the “businessman” he was referring to, he named Sen. Tito Sotto, Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, and Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian as among those who will comprise his senatorial line-up. In his senatorial wish list are Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao and Sen. Ralph Recto, husband of Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos, who is another possible runningmate of Binay.

DIVIDED NP?

Meanwhile, Remulla vowed to support Binay’s presidential bid, saying he is the “most qualified” to become president in 2016.

He expressed his support for Binay despite the pronouncements of his NP partymates – Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV – that they may seek higher office in 2016.

Cayetano and Trillanes are also leading the probe into the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II project.

But Remulla said he is convinced that the probe led by his partymates is “politically motivated.”

Remulla said he sees no conflict of interest with him working for Binay despite being a member of the NP, noting that the vice president has yet to launch his political party.

NP-UNA ALLIANCE?

“Who knows the NP and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) will form an alliance for 2016? But that is just a speculation,” Remulla said.

“I am happy for Gov. Jonvic Remulla because I know that he is very talented and articulate individual. I wish him well,” Cayetano said in an interview after a Senate committee hearing.

“However, the situation does not call for more spokesmen; the situation calls for the vice president answering the issues directly,” Cayetano said.

As far as Cayetano is concerned, the vice president’s children have already acted as his spokesmen.

UNA Secretary General Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco welcomed Remulla’s presence in the Binay camp noting how he has been hard up lately in speaking for the vice president.

“Mag-isa lang ako (pero) sampu-sampu ang sumusuntok sa akin (I’m alone and yet a lot are throwing their punches),” Tiangco said in a jest. (With a report from Hannah L. Torregoza)