Philippine VP forms opposition amid graft probe

Ahead of elections next year, the Philippines vice president has formed a new opposition party, sealing his departure from the president.

Philippine VP forms opposition amid graft probe

World Bulletin / News Desk

Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay, who quit the cabinet last month amid corruption charges, formed a new opposition party on Wednesday, signalling a formal break with the president ahead of elections next year.

Binay was a team player in the cabinet of President Benigno Aquino for five years until he resigned and started attacking the administration's policies.

"Binay is about to become a political Robin Hood," Benito Lim, a political science professor from Ateneo de Manila University, told Reuters.

"He wanted an early start to consolidate his power in the provinces."

Binay unveiled an ambitious platform for his United Nationalist Alliance in the impoverished country - to create more jobs, spur tourism, improve agriculture, deliver efficient health care, education and transportation and reduce poverty.

The party launch attracted formidable allies across the archipelago as old political families, warlords and popular personalities, like boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, an elected congressman, gave their backing.

After the mid-term elections in 2013, Binay emerged as a clear choice of Filipinos to succeed Aquino as president because of a popular rags-to-riches story. But corruption allegations against him and his family have since taken their toll.

Two independent surveys in June showed first-time Senator Grace Poe, the adopted daughter of a movie action hero who ran and lost against former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004, overtaking Binay as the number one choice for president.

But she has to yet to decide whether or not to run next May, and she has no clear political party and resources to campaign.

Interior and Local Government Minister Manuel Roxas is expected to be the standard bearer of the ruling coalition led by the Liberal Party, but surveys suggest he has little support. 

With diplomatic relations restored, the United States and Cuba will turn to the more difficult task of normalizing overall relations.

Major obstacles include the comprehensive U.S. economic embargo of Cuba and the U.S. naval base at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, which the United States has leased since 1903. Cuba wants the 45 square miles (116 square km) returned as full sovereign territory.

Obama, a Democrat, has asked the Republican-controlled Congress to lift the 53-year-old embargo, but the conservative leadership in Congress has resisted.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Temmuz 2015, 14:19