MANILA, Philippines - This early, the sisters of President Aquino have cast their lot with Vice President Jejomar Binay, the first among presidential aspirants who has declared that he will run for the highest post in the land in 2016.
Acknowledging the gesture, Binay thanked the Aquino sisters, saying the ties between their families "transcended politics."
TV host and actress Kris Aquino declared her and her three sisters' support for Binay as a potential successor of the President on her programme with cohost Boy Abunda on Tuesday night.
Kris was reacting to Binay's statement that the ruling Liberal Party (LP) could adopt the Vice President as its standard-bearer in the coming presidential election.
"My sisters and I have been talking about it [LP adopting Binay], and we say that if this can bring about unity as … we're not enemies… and if he continues what Noy has started, why not?" the youngest of the Aquino siblings said in Filipino.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Aquino's running mate in 2010, is the LP presumptive presidential candidate in 2016.
A statement issued by Binay quoted Ballsy Aquino-Cruz's interview in a news programme on Wednesday night in which she also declared her support for the Vice President.
In the interview, Ballsy said she wanted peace and was "grateful" to people who may be outside the administration party but were "thinking of ways to improve our country to improve the lives of the people."
Binay, a human rights lawyer during the Marcos regime, belongs to the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), a group he formed with former President Joseph Estrada and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile a few months before the 2013 midterm elections.
The eldest of the Aquino children, Ballsy said Binay was among those who fought the Marcos dictatorship that was why their families experienced difficult times together.
"That's why I'm happy that he felt that way. If he wants to continue what Noy has started, the better," Ballsy said in Filipino in her interview on TV Patrol.
Thanking the sisters for their trust and support, Binay said he was "humbled" that they would see him as someone who could continue the President's "good programs."
"I share their view that the welfare of our kababayan (countrymen) should always come first and should not be compromised by partisan politics," said the Vice President.
Binay said the friendship between the Aquino and Binay families was a "bond that transcended politics.
Binay is a known staunch ally of the late President Corazon Aquino.
In his fifth State of the Nation Address on July 28, Aquino noted that he and Binay were together during the worst military coup attempt in 1989 against his mother where he was also seriously wounded.
Binay, then mayor of Makati City, earned the moniker "Rambotito" (small Rambo) for brandishing an Uzi submachine gun, ready to defend Cory Aquino against rebel soldiers.
Estrada, now Manila mayor, said that Binay had assured him that he would reject any offer to be the LP guest candidate in 2016. "I told him (Binay) that there is no need for him to accept any invitation from the LP because he is already way ahead in the surveys. He (Binay) told me that all this talk of being invited by LP was just speculation," Estrada said. "The media just got its news late."
'Binay afraid of my candidacy'
Estrada said that Binay would be making a big mistake if he joined the LP. "UNA will be forced to field a candidate to replace him because there will be no opposition to run against the administration," he said.
Asked if he was interested in replacing Binay as UNA's standard-bearer, Estrada replied: "I'm not saying that."
But Estrada told the Inquirer that Binay himself had recognised that he was the main stumbling block to the latter's dream to be the next President.
"I am the only candidate he (Binay) is afraid of," the Manila mayor said. Binay and Estrada are banking on the support of the same base of Class C, D and E voters.
His son, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, was supposed to be Binay's running mate in 2016 but the senator has been detained on plunder and graft charges in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Binay fueled speculations of an alliance with the LP when he volunteered "raw information" that he received that an LP faction was considering to adopt him as guest candidate in the 2016 elections.
The LP's presumptive candidate, Roxas, has lagged behind Binay in surveys and has reportedly been given up to the end of this year to boost his ratings and prove he has a chance to win in 2016.
Roxas, who lost narrowly to Binay in 2010, is now rumored as the running mate of Aquino should his LP allies succeed in getting Congress to amend the Constitution and allow the President to run for a second term.
Under Section 4, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, a President is limited to only one six-year term.