Why VP Binay proposed, then backed out of Trillanes debate
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay's "emotions" drove him to commit what his camp now calls "blips" of the opposition leader – his debate challenge to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, and his decision to back out of it.
Binay’s spokesman for political affairs made the clarification on Wednesday, November 12, as he insisted that Binay, by making such decisions, is not “hiding or running away from the truth.”
“Sometimes, [Binay] is caught off-guard, he’s very emotional about things,” Remulla said in his November 12 #RapplerTalk interview.
According to Remulla, the debate was first mentioned in a chance interview held shortly after Senator Antonio Trillanes IV "said very hurting words." He was referring to the corruption allegations against the Vice President and members of his family at the Senate probe into the alleged overpriced Makati building.
Trillanes and other senators had urged Binay to appear at the Senate inquiry so he can respond to the allegations.
Binay said he would rather have a one-on-one with Trillanes outside the Senate where the senator cannot be protected by parliamentary immunity, which Trillanes readily agreed to.
Explaining this move, Remulla said: “It was nothing more really than an emotional moment for him. He really wanted to defend himself.”
“You have to give him room for errors in some things. It was an emotional moment. He felt very slighted by the senator, so [he said] let’s do a debate," he added.
On Tuesday, Binay told reporters that his sudden decision to pull out of the debate, was because Trillanes had painted him as a “bully” who was seeking to “take advantage” of the senator who, unlike him, was not a lawyer.
According to Remulla, nobody in the camp knew beforehand that Binay had already made up his mind, though both Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and his family members had been very vocal against the debate.
Remulla, who is 3 months into his job as vice presidential spokesperson, said that typically, “the communication process is structured” when it comes to Binay, but the debate issue was an exception since the Vice President was driven by his emotions to make the impromptu announcements.
Remulla said Binay was dead-set on pushing through with the debate until he had an “epiphany" on Tuesday, November 11, while jogging with his fellow Marines at the Navy headquarters, as part of his 72nd birthday celebration. This was prior to his media interview where he announced his withdrawal from the debate.
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“[Binay] realized that there are things that the country needs and there are things we can do without. It’s a disservice to quarrel and bicker. He is not hiding from the truth, he’s not running away from it. He will face the Ombudsman, his lawyers are there,” said Remulla.
He said that the Vice President wanted to honor his word that he would have a face-off with Trillanes, but his sense of responsibility took over.
“Nagpakalalaki siya eh. Sabi niya: tuloy natin ito (He wanted to be a man of his word. He said: let’s push through with this). But the responsibility for the country took over. The inner voices in his head said it’s better to go to work,” Remulla added.
Despite the backlash from Trillanes, other politicians, and Netizens, Remulla said Binay remains unfazed.
“In the end, [Binay] takes responsibility for making the challenge. He does. He does not back away [and] it’s no one’s bad except his,” said Remulla.
Binay's spurned debate foe, Trillanes, is one of 3 senators leading a Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee probe into allegations of corruption against Binay.
The probe has since turned into a no holds barred venue for whistleblowers to accuse the Vice President of rigging bids, accepting kickbacks, and hiding his wealth through dummies and foreign accounts when he was Makati mayor.
Remulla said the negotiations were going on smoothly for the November 27 debate until Binay pulled the plug.
The Binay and Trillanes camps had several meetings with the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), which was tasked to organize and host the debate, and were set to finalize other details until the Vice President's withdrawal.
“The negotiations were good. It was a ‘Westminster’ type of debate,” said Remulla.
The 4 debate propositions, according to Remulla, would have been:
- Is the Makati City Building 2 overpriced?
- Has the Senate overreached in its investigation?
- Does Binay own the Rosario property?
- Is Senator Trillanes guilty of culpable violation of the Constitution because of DAP and PDAF?
Trillanes said in several media interviews that he took up "basics" in debating in preparation for the face-off, which he hoped he could still put to good use should Binay change his mind. – Rappler.com