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MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE: 7:07PM) President Benigno Aquino III toured the Coconut Palace with Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday, but the camps of both leaders denied they met over reports of their “inevitable” parting of ways come the 2016 presidential elections.
The two leaders came from the 2nd ministerial meeting of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City before proceeding to Binay’s new office.
“It was the first time that the President was able to tour the newly-renovated Coconut Palace. It was a social call. The tour lasted for about 10 minutes and the Vice President thanked him for the visit,” Binay’s spokesman Joey Salgado said.
“They did not have the opportunity to talk in private. But they have both made their respective statements earlier. The President said he and the Vice President have already gone through a lot, while the Vice President said they will not have a falling out just because of politics,” Salgado added.
Communications Development Secretary Ramon Carandang echoed Salgado’s statement.
“It was really more of a social call rather than anything else. They did not discuss any issue,” Carandang said.
Earlier reports on Thursday said the two leaders met briefly behind closed doors at the Coconut Palace, sparking speculation that they were discussing recent reports about a partinng of ways owing to their coming from different parties.
On Sunday, deputy Malacanang spokesperson Abigail Valte said the two leaders would part ways because their respective parties -- Aquino’s Liberal Party and Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance -- will be supporting different standard bearers in 2016. The next day, Mr. Aquino denied this.
There are also indications the UNA might field a different senatorial slate in next year’s midterm elections.
Although on Monday Aquino denied a split was “inevitable,” Binay said the next day that there would really be a parting of ways.
Binay declined to disclose what he and Aquino discussed at the closed-door meeting.
In his speech during the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, Aquino said the government continues with its efforts to reverse the so-called Philippine diaspora.
“For the longest time, it seemed that the fate of the Filipino was to be an economic refugee … From the moment we stepped into office, our administration has been on a mission to reverse this trend. Working abroad should not be a necessity, but a choice,” he said.
Binay also serves as Aquino’s adviser on overseas Filipino workers’ concerns.