A couple of weeks before the May 10, 2010 presidential elections, a hitherto unknown group popped out of nowhere. It gained a personality when it became apparent that it was campaigning for Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, for president and vice-president, respectively.
Nothing was wrong with that. But what is strange was Aquino and Binay, who belong to opposing parties, were supported by this nameless group, which later in the campaign came be known as “NoyBi,” short for Noynoy-Binay. And what is really strange was that Noynoy’s siblings, relatives, and friends ran NoyBi, while Noynoy’s Liberal Party ran “NoyMar,” the official group for the Aquino-Roxas campaign.
Evidently, the Aquino-Cojuangco clan had ditched Roxas, who had to abandon his presidential ambitions to make way for Noynoy who was then considering a run for president upon the death of his mother, former president Cory Aquino. For Mar’s noble gesture, Noynoy offered him to be his running mate, which Mar accepted.
Samar vs. Balay
The NoyMar campaign took off to a good start but as the race drew closer to Election Day, polls started to show Mar’s survey ratings going down while Noynoy’s improved a little. Meanwhile, Binay’s ratings had gone up. That’s when the NoyBi campaign came out in the open. Headed by now-Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa, the NoyBi group had been meeting in a mansion on Samar Street owned by Jojo’s brother-in-law, Jose “Jerry” Acuzar; hence, the NoyBi campaign was oftentimes referred to as the Samar group. Across town, the NoyMar group met in the “White House” or “Balay na Puti” in Cubao, Quezon City, which was owned by the Roxas family. Thus, the NoyMar group had come to be known as the Balay group.
As for Vice President Binay, P-Noy (short for President Noynoy), as he wanted to be called since his election, appointed Binay as the “Housing Czar” and gave him the huge Coconut Palace by the Manila Bay for his office. With a high profile “can’t-do-wrong” job and an office that was once a showcase of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, Binay got himself a vehicle he can use for a presidential run in 2016.
Meanwhile, P-Noy appointed Mar as Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), a job that is a lightning rod for controversy and scandal. And with all the criticism thrown at Mar, his chance of winning the 2016 presidential contest is becoming more remote as each day passes.
But Mar had consistently disavowed any interest or ambition in seeking the presidency. He continues to deny it every time he’s asked. Perhaps he suspected NoyBi was not about a Noynoy-Binay victory in 2010 but “Noynoy in 2010 and Binay in 2016.”
There are loose talks that the Liberal Party (LP) was planning to “adopt” an outsider for the 2016 race due to Mar’s low survey ratings. Binay confirmed that he’s been approached about it but claimed that there was no formal discussion yet on the matter. However, he said he is open to the idea of being the LP’s guest presidential candidate in 2016 since it would allow the country’s two biggest political parties to join forces. The following day, Binay issued a statement saying that he was open to the idea of having Mar as his running mate. Mar immediately rejected his suggestion.
But notwithstanding all these loose talks, Binay has the support of P-Noy’s four sisters – Kris Aquino, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, Viel Aquino-Dee, and Pinky Aquino Abellada. Last August 5, Kris declared in her TV program the Aquino sisters’ support for Binay, which makes one wonder: If Binay became the LP’s standard-bearer, what would become of Mar? Rumor has it that some LP stalwarts have given him until the end of the month to improve his survey ratings or the party would consider other candidates.
The four Aquino sisters’ endorsement came at a time when the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) is badly bruised with the arrest and detention of two of the UNA’s notable leaders, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, for plunder charges. With no other potential presidential candidate with the caliber of Binay, UNA would be rendered impotent.
In reaction to Binay joining forces with the LP, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada said that the UNA would get its own candidate should Binay join the LP. However, he said that if UNA couldn’t get a candidate, then that would be the only time he would consider running.
Battle between two kings
A contest between two of the UNA’s vaunted “Three Kings” – Binay vs. Erap — would energize their respective followers. Binay who commands a large following on his own, and with the help of P-Noy’s “Yellowers,” would certainly be a force to reckon with. But so do Erap’s die-hard followers who have loyally supported him even when he was incarcerated for almost seven years after then-Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ousted him in 2001. Indeed, his second-place position in the 2010 presidential elections was a testament to his ability to arouse his supporters, which begs the question: Can Erap beat Binay? Yes, he can.
But can Binay beat Erap? Maybe. And this is where the NoyBi group could help Binay win. However, there is doubt that it might not be able to repeat the stealthy blitzkrieg campaign in 2010 that brought Noynoy and Binay over the top. But the difference is that Noynoy rode the crest of Cory’s popularity while Binay had yet to explain corruption allegations in the “Lord of Makati” exposé in 2001, which many people find disturbing.
Recently, a P1.56 billion plunder complaint was filed against Binay and his son, Makati Mayor Jun-jun Binay. They’re accused of overpricing a parking building contract by more than a billion pesos.
But regardless of whether Binay can weather the corruption storm, one thing is certain: NoyBi is still alive and kicking. But can it rescue Binay from the quagmire he’s in?