By HANNAH L. TORREGOZA, EDMER F. PANESA
October 13, 2009, 5:30pm
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile confirmed Tuesday that former President Joseph Estrada would be running for president in the May 2010 elections with Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay as his running mate.
This developed as party-list Rep. Florencio “Bem” Noel said that the tandem of Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Loren Legarda in 2010 is a done deal.
In an interview with Senate reporters Tuesday, Enrile said that as far as he is concerned an Estrada-Binay tandem seems to be a “done deal” already and it would only be a matter of time before the ousted president formally announces his presidential bid.
Enrile is chair emeritus of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) which Estrada founded.
“Palagay ko done deal na iyon,” Enrile said when asked about the issue.
“I think that’s it. I think that’s it,” Enrile repeatedly said.
In contrast with other presidential tandems, Enrile compared the Estrada-Binay tandem to Texas fighting cocks and described them as “very good.”
“Magagaling. Kung sa pintakasi yan ay meron din kaming manok na Texas,” Enrile pointed out. (They’re excellent. Like in a cockfight, we have good breeds.”)
“Alam mo itong eleksyon na ito (You know this elections) it’s a joust. It is a political joust, maiwan ang matibay (let the tough survive),” he added.
Enrile also warned Binay’s rivals in the vice presidential race, saying the mayor should not be underestimated.
“Don’t underestimate Jojo (Binay’s nickname). Maraming Ilokano, maraming Ibanag, maraming mayors sa Pilipinas na makokontak nya,” Enrile said citing Binay’s influence and connections. (“There are many Ilocanos, Ibanags and other mayors in the country that he can contact.”)
Enrile also confirmed that aside from him, Estrada’s son, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada would be running under the PMP senatorial slate.
Grace Poe, the daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe, Jr., is also being considered by the group, but Enrile said he could not yet say if she would be joining the group.
Meanwhile, Noel, a staunch supporter of Escudero, said the decision of Legarda to become Chiz’s running mate served as her “belated gift” to the latter who celebrated his 40th birth anniversary last Saturday.
The Escudero-Legarda tandem was “sealed” following a meeting among NPC members at their headquarters in New Manila, Quezon City on Monday night, Noel said.
He said the meeting was attended by 20 congressmen, including Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco, son of NPC founder Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.
“Based on my understanding, although I am not authorized to speak in behalf of them, I believe that Sen. Legarda will be Chiz’s running-mate. That is her belated gift to Chiz,” Noel said.
Noel said Escudero will make a formal announcement regarding his political plans after things shall have settled down a bit. The young senator, he said, believes that making a political declaration in the midst of natural calamities is improper.
Neither Escudero nor Legarda has confirmed reports that they already have a decision on who would be the NPC standard-bearer.
But Legarda herself had said they have already agreed that they should be together on one ticket in 2010.
Legarda said they both believe that she and Escudero are strong together as the surveys show.
She said they are now in the process of fine-tuning the NPC platform and they have to finish it first before announcing their collective decision.