MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano challenged Vice President Jejomar Binay to make a strong statement about his allies implicated in the pork barrel scam, warning that the Philippines will “fall” if he becomes president.
Cayetano said is it not enough for Binay’s ally, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary-general Toby Tiangco to say that the pork barrel scam case will proceed under a Binay administration.
“Pakiusap kay VP, make a very, very strong statement na ‘Kahit kakampi ko iyan, sagutin ninyo [ang kaso].’ If he thinks they are innocent, then say so pero ano ang nakikita ninyo kasi wala pa tayong nakikita eh. He should not use the standard [line] ‘pinupulitika kasi,’” Cayetano said on Mornings@ANC on Wednesday, March 5.
(I request the VP to make a very, very strong statement that “Even if they are my allies, they should face the case.” If he thinks they are innocent, then say so and say what he sees because we haven’t seen anything to that effect yet. He should not use the standard line that politics is behind the case.)
Binay and Cayetano are posturing for the 2016 presidential polls but the senator has yet to give a categorical statement on his plans. (READ: Cayetano: ‘I don’t wanna run; I wanna win’)
Binay’s allies Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile are respondents in the multi-billion peso corruption scandal, where they allegedly funneled their pork barrel funds to bogus non-governmental organizations in exchange for kickbacks.
Cayetano said he found Binay’s statements calling the pork barrel scam case “trial by publicity,” wanting.
“If he makes a statement, at least it will show he has moral toughness, even if his allies are involved. I think that is the game plan. Everyone will hang and say 2016 but that’s unfair to the Vice President if that’s not true.”
The senator said it is only fair to call out Binay for his statements that “tend to weaken the case” because this was a departure from the former Makati mayor’s stand when they were together in the opposition against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“Bakit nung panahon ni GMA, lahat ng ginagawa ni GMA cini-criticize ni VP Binay at ‘di sinabi trial by publicity? Pero ngayon si Senator Enrile, Jinggoy ang tinutuligsa, ang sinasabi niya trial by publicity?”
(How come during the time of GMA, VP Binay criticized everything that GMA did and he didn’t say it was trial by publicity? How come now that Senators Enrile and Jinggoy are criticized, he is saying it’s trial by publicity?)
Cayetano also cited the statement of Binay’s eldest daughter, Senator Nancy Binay, as an indication that the Vice President might protect his allies.
On Tuesday, Senator Binay said Estrada remains a possible running mate of her father even after he was implicated in the pork barrel scam. She said, “I guess Senator Jinggoy has an edge because ever since 2010, even before 2010, we were together during the time Mayor Erap was president until FPJ. We’ve been together through thick and thin.”
After quoting Senator Binay, Cayetano said, “You tell me. This is a P10-billion scam. You are courting a senator [as a possible running mate]. How can you prosecute someone you are courting? People deserve to insulate this from politics.”
He added, “If it were my partymate in the [Nacionalista Party] who was charged, the evidence is there, and he does not respond, wouldn’t it be fair to ask me, ‘What will you do? You are so noisy with the others but with him you are not?’”
Cayetano made the statement as he again pushed for a daily trial of the pork barrel scam case to expedite its resolution.
‘Don’t just cry politics’
Cayetano also responded to Binay’s barb that he declared his presidential bid to avoid any pretenses and open himself up to scrutiny, unlike others who played hard to get.
“But every time someone scrutinizes him, sinasabi niya pulitika lang.” (He is saying they are just politicking.)
The senator said what the Philippines needs is to have 3 successive “good presidents” for Filipinos to “wake up to progress.”
Asked if the Philippines will suffer (babagsak) under a Binay presidency, Cayetano said, “At the rate he’s going, yes.”
In response, Tiangco told Rappler that Binay will not bite Cayetano’s bait.
“All he wants is to be in the news every day. Babanat siya, sasagot si VP, tapos sasagot siya. (He will attack, VP will respond and then he talks again.) He simply wants to be in the news. If he’s willing to pay P500,000 for a 30-seconder ad, I’m sure he wants to get it for free. He wants to be on TV, free media mileage,” Tiangco said.
On the Arroyo issue, Tiangco said Cayetano cannot compare Binay’s stance now and then.
“GMA was an unconstitutional president. You ask him, does he agree GMA was an unconstitutional president? Two, during the time of GMA, there was no rule of law. So if you’re pushed to the corner, what remedy do you have but go to the streets? If he says it’s the same situation as before, then I thought we are now respecting the Constitution,” he added.
‘Bong, Jinggoy lawyers should cross-examine Cunanan’
Cayetano also proposed that if Estrada and co-accused Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr insist on skipping the Senate hearings on the scam, they should send their lawyers to ask questions to potential state witness Dennis Cunanan instead.
“Not to defend my two colleagues, Senators Jinggoy and Bong, but I’ve never seen them more adamant than in saying they don’t know and they never talked to Mr Cunanan. We can have their lawyers cross-examine Cunanan. The reason I like hearings is every Filipino is a jurist,” he said.
Cayetano said the testimony of the director general (on leave) of the Technology Resource Center and self-confessed bagman Ruby Tuason is valuable.
Cunanan said he personally called Revilla, Estrada and Enrile’s resigned chief of staff lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes to verify their signatures in pork barrel documents. The two senators flatly denied the charge.
“Tuason and Cunanan are the only two witnesses who have a direct connection to the two senators and the chief of staff of Senator Enrile. The other witnesses were by inference,” Cayetano said.
“If the senators say they did not know about it, that’s not a crime. You can choose not to vote for them but in court, you cannot jail someone without direct evidence.” – Rappler.com