SUPPORTERS of late opposition standard bearer Fernando Poe Jr. said Tuesday that they are supporting Makati Mayor and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) vice presidential candidate Jejomar Binay in the May polls.

But the group, Filipino for Peace, Justice and Progress Movement (FPJPM), said it was not giving its support to Poe’s bosom buddy and Binay’s running mate, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who is the PMP standard bearer.

Click here for Election 2010 updates

FPJPM president Lorenzo “Boots” Cadsawan said their support to Binay was due to his support for Poe’s advocacies, adding that they will help campaign for the latter like what they did to Poe in 2004.

“Kung paano namin itinaguyod and kandidatura ni FPJ (Poe’s initials), ganun din ang gagawin namin kay Binay dahil sa naniniwala kami na kaya niyang ipagpatuloy ang adhikain ni FPJ,” Cadsawan said.

“Like FPJ, Mayor Binay genuinely cares for this country and its people. Like FPJ, Mayor Binay wishes for nothing but the best for all Filipinos, especially those who are marginalized. Like FPJ, Mayor Binay embodies the hope for a new dawn. FPJ’s vision pegged on the campaign slogan ‘Bagong Umaga’ is the same vision that Binay foresees for the country, what with his strategic plans to dismantle the culture of graft and corruption,” he added.

Cadsawan said Binay like Poe also values loyalty to his allies and the country and that his principles remained unchanged from the time he played an active role in the 1986 Edsa People Power uprising that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

“We believe he will continue the fight that FPJ started in 2004,” he added. “His platform addresses the needs of the poor, who were crucial in compelling FPJ to throw his hat into the presidential ring in 2004. Nonetheless, his platform includes the promotion of a better investment climate in the country, shorn of the grafters and influence peddlers.”

Cadsawan added that Binay was chosen unanimously by the 500,000-strong organization because the opposition leader embodies “character, vision, and leadership.”

The group said Binay’s platform of good governance and pro-poor programs patterned after his experienced running Makati for more than 20 years is what the country needed and what they are looking for in a vice president.

At the same time, the FPJ supporters will announce their choice for president after the Holy Week break.

In a statement, Binay thanked FPJPM for its endorsement and continuing commitment to the principles espoused by Poe.

He enjoined the group to be actively involved in ensuring that the true will of the people will be upheld in the upcoming polls, citing the massive fraud and cheating in the 2004 polls.

“The coming election is very important for all of us. We should not only participate in the elections, but we should also be prepared to fight election fraud,” Binay said.

But the Estrada camp dismissed Cadsawan’s group, saying “true FPJ supporters” will always support his candidacy.

“President Estrada has always been magnanimous enough to respect the decision of those who wish to support others. But if this group that calls themselves FPJPM decides to support anyone other than Joseph Estrada, they should stop using the name of FPJ because they are doing a disservice to his name and showing disrespect to his memory because his entire life, FPJ was the number one friend and supporter of Joseph Estrada,” Estrada’s spokesperson Margaux Salcedo said.

Salcedo recounted that Poe was always there for Estrada when he decided to seek public office starting as mayor in San Juan, to Senator, Vice President and President.

“If you would recall, he was even there as part of the Estrada family when Estrada took his oath of office as president of the Philippines. That is how deep the friendship between President Estrada and FPJ was. To the point that when President Estrada was ousted, FPJ ran in 2004 to continue the unfinished legacy of his friend, to continue the fight of Erap to uplift the lives of the poor against the ruling elite. The fight today remains the same; and if this group does not recognize that, they have no business calling themselves followers of FPJ,” she added. (AH/Sunnex)