VP Binay not in Aquino 'show of force' event
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – For the first time ever, President Benigno Aquino III separated himself from Vice President and opposition leader Jejomar Binay.
On Friday, September 12, Aquino gathered his allies in Malacañang, in what was framed by Palace officials as an “agenda setting” with “reformists and like-minded public servants from government and civil society.” Albay governor Joey Salceda, also an Aquino ally, described the event as a "show of force."
Binay was nowhere to be seen.
Asked whether Binay was even invited, Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco, spokesperson for the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), told Rappler after the speech: “Definitely [Binay] was not invited. No invitiation has arrived in the OVP (Office of the Vice President) whether by text or by formal invite.”
This is the first time Aquino has publicly distanced himself from Binay.
Binay currently tops surveys of preferred presidential candidates. In the latest Pulse Asia survey, Binay received a 41% voters' preference.
Aquino has yet to announce his choice in the 2016 polls, but presumed Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas’ numbers are at 7%. (READ: How do you solve a problem like Mar Roxas?)
House allies of the President have expressed hope to Rappler for Aquino to definitively distinguish Binay as separate from the administration even if he occupies the country’s second highest official post.
Because the President has yet to anoint Roxas as his chosen one, “Roxas has been unable to consolidate” or “galvanize support.” At the same time, Aquino's silence also helps Binay, who is spared of criticism from allies of the President as long as he himself hesitates to separate the Vice President from his administration.
“We can't criticize Binay because he's still part of the family. We're caught in the middle,” a lawmaker source told Rappler. “[The President] should make a decision.”
The Vice President is currently under fire after his former allies in the Makati City government testified at the Senate hearing on the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 that then mayor Binay had received kickbacks from city projects, and ordered rigged bids to ensure that their chosen firms bag contracts. (READ: Former ally: VP Binay got 13% from Makati projects)
In his speech, Aquino emphasized that those not in the room – the Palace Rizal Hall – was against the administration, adding that whoever supported a candidate he has not yet endorsed is not an ally either. He did not mention any names.
“At siyempre po, ang mga kontra sa atin, magtutulak ng sarili nilang kandidato. Sa kanila nga po, na hindi natin kasama ngayon dahil kontra ang prinsipyo nila sa atin, ‘di ba’t natural lang din na kokontra sila sa lahat ng nagawa natin?,” he said.
(And of course, those who are against us will push for their own candidates. To them, who are not with us today because they are against our principles, isn’t it only natural that they are also against everything we do?)
He also slammed detractors, who he said act as if problems can be solved overnight and do nothing but criticize the government’s work while the administration plants seeds of reforms. When the reforms grow however, Aquino said they are the first to take credit.
"Kaya nga po kung minsan, natatawa na lang tayo sa mga nagpapaulan ng batikos sa programang ito: Kung mayroon silang alam na magic, na bukas mismo, ‘pag ininom itong tabletang ito, automatic na tatanda nang puno ng kaalaman ang kabataan at makakapaghanapbuhay na, bakit po hindi nila ipaalam sa atin nang makatulong naman sila?," he said.
(This is why sometimes, I just laugh at those attacking these programs: If they have a magic pill that would give the youth enough knowledge to get a job overnight, how come they haven't told us so that they can at least help out?)
"Ang problema po, tuloy ang pagkontra nila habang tayo’y nagtatanim [ng reporma], pero tiyak ko po, pagdating sa panahon na aanihin na ang mga bunga nito, sila pa ang mangunguna sa pagpapapapel."
(The problem is they continue to criticize us while we plant [reforms]. But I'm certain that come harvest time, they would be the first to grab credit.)
The President also outlined the achievements of his administration, and highlighted that the only way to move forward was through the straight and narrow path he and the LP have championed.
Meanwhile, Cavite Governor and Binay's spokesperson Jonvic Remulla dismissed Binay's failure to receive an invite as a non-issue.
"They understand that it was a political coalition meeting. Although they aren't in the same coalition, the Vice President and his family continue to embrace the President's reform agenda," he said in a text message to Rappler.
While the Vice President was not invited to hear the President's address, his daughter, Makati Representative Abigail Binay, was seen at the event.
Remulla said the younger Binay was "invited as a member of the House Majority coalition as Deputy Speaker." – Rappler.com