MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay questions the timing and possible political motives behind the publication of a 2011 letter he sent to President Aquino about former military comptroller retired Maj Gen Carlos Garcia.
Binay’s spokesperson, Joey Salgado, reacted to a Rappler report about the letter Binay sent Aquino last Jan 3, 2011, urging the President to consider a plea bargain deal between the Ombudsman and Garcia over his P303-M plunder case. (Read: VP Binay lobbied for General Garcia)
In a statement sent to Rappler, Salgado expressed concern that the leak was made “at a time when there are political realignments.”
Salgado called the story “unfair and irresponsible,” saying it imputed selfish motives behind the confidential memo. He also said “Rappler exaggerates big time” as the letter hardly qualified as “lobbying” for Garcia.
Binay’s spokesperson also stressed that the Vice President has sent many private and confidential memos to Aquino on different issues. He said the process is part of democracy and crafting policy.
Below is the full statement sent by Binay’s camp:
One private and confidential memorandum to the President could hardly qualify as “lobbying.” On this point, Rappler exaggerates big time.
We cannot reveal how many private and confidential memos the Vice President has sent to the President on a host of issues. The Garcia memo was just one of them. And it was sent more than a year ago.
The Vice President takes his job seriously. He weighs in on national issues, and feels it is important to give the President all the inputs and options prior to a decision. It is how a democratic government works and it is how policy is crafted.
We cannot comment fully on the contents of the private and confidential memorandum. Doing so would break the rules governing confidential documents, executive privilege, and in this case, the sub judice rule. But since Rappler has chosen to make the contents of the private and confidential memo public, then the document speaks for itself: the Vice President was giving his views as a lawyer, or to be precise, his years of experience as a trial lawyer. There is a portion in the letter where the Vice President said that personally he would want Garcia charged with plunder, but his years a lawyer has taught him to set personal feeling aside when handling a case. This portion appears to have been omitted in the Rappler story.
We are, however, grateful that the story acknowledged that the Vice President “got it right though on one major count” (underscoring ours). “ The Sandiganbayan eventually agreed with him. In approving the plea bargain on May 9, 2011, the graft court ruled that the prosecution failed to establish an air-tight case against Garcia,” it said, towards the end of the story. Still, thank you.
The article imputes selfish motives behind the private and confidential memo. This is most unfair and irresponsible. As the article pointed out, the resolution clearing former Mayor Elenita Binay was made by then acting Ombudsman Casimiro in July 2011. It was not Merceditas Gutierrez who issued the resolution.
We are just concerned that a memo to the President of a private and confidential nature written more than a year ago would find its way to a media organization at a time when there are political realignments. It raises the possible political motives behind the leak.
But beyond that, there are issues on the handling of all private and confidential memos to the President.