MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED)– The gloves are off: President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday, June 25, shot back at Vice President Jejomar Binay, who had resigned from his Cabinet over allegations of his “crooked, failed” administration.
In an interview with reporters, the President expressed dismay at Binay’s tirades and wondered aloud why he, as a Cabinet official, did not make any proposals at all to improve government service in the last 5 years.
Aquino said he gave Binay every opportunity to actively work for his administration – he granted the Vice President’s specific request to hold the position of Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers, on top of chairing the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).
“Hinalal siya ng taong bayan. Binigay ko sa kanya lahat ng pagkakataon na hindi siya maging, tawag dito, spare tire. ‘Yung pinagkasunduan namin na yung assignment niyang housing, hinirit nyang idagdag ‘yung [presidential adviser on] OFW [concerns].” Aquino said.
(The people elected him. I gave him every opportunity so that he would not be called, what do you call it? A spare tire. On top of our agreement on his housing assignment, he asked that he be designated as [presidential adviser on] OFW [concerns].”)
In the 5 years they were together in the Cabinet, Aquino said he could not remember any instance wherein he ignored Binay. After all, Aquino said, he regarded the Vice President as a member of his official family.
“Wala akong maalalang sitwasyon kung saan isya humingi ng pagpupulong na di napagbigyan. Hanggang sa mismong pagdala, pinadala ‘yung sulat [resignation letter]….Minabuti ko na tanungin siya kung ano talaga and dahilan…dahil tinuring ko siyang miyembro ng official family,” Aquino said.
(I cannot remember any situation wherein he asked for a meeting and I didn’t grant his request. Even when he sent the [resignation] letter, I decided to ask him directly what were his reasons because I regarded him as a member of the official family.)
The President said his administration will respond to Binay’s allegations “point by point.”
‘Why didn’t you help?’
Aquino, who was admittedly surprised by Binay’s resignation, said the latter failed to give him the reasons behind his resignation when he personally called the Vice President to confirm it on Monday. He said the Vice President told him that he would just write down all his reasons and send it to him later on.
Two days later, Binay held what was supposed to be a press conference to declare the reasons for his resignation. The Vice President delivered a 10-minute prepared speech but did not take questions. (READ: Spokespersons, not Binay field questions on resignation)
Aquino said that based on Binay’s statement, “Tila marami siyang kinikimkim na mga sekreto para magpaganda sa pagpapatakbo nitong bansang ito. Palagay ko may obligasyon siya na miyembro siya ng Gabinete na ibinahagi niya ito.”
(He seems to be keeping to himself a lot of secrets on how to better govern the country. I think that he, as a member of the Cabinet, had an obligation to share this.)
He quickly added: “Pero siguro maganda na rin kapag itatanong ninyo sa akin, ‘Bakit hindi niya ibinahagi?’ E palagay ko siya na lang ang tanungin ‘nyo. Kung may maitutulong ka sa ikakabuti ng taumbayan na pinangakuan nating paglilingkuran, bakit mo naman isinisikreto?”
(It would be good if someone asks me, ‘Why didn’t he share [his solutions]?’ But I think you it’s better to ask him that question. If you can help improve the lives of the people whom you vowed to serve, why did you keep it a secret?)
‘Thank you anyway’
Aquino could not hide his dismay at what he believed to be Binay’s unwarranted rant against his administration.
“Kung tatanungin ‘nyo ko, pangkaraniwan naman siguro sa Pilipino, kayo na lumagay sa posisyon ko – paano ko ba siya trinato ng mali? Tapos ito sinukli nya. Kaya thank you na rin sa kanya,” Aquino said.
(If you ask me, I think this is normal for Filipinos, try to be in my position – how did I ever treat him badly? And then this is what I get. So, thank you anyway to him.)
Aquino believes Binay’s strong tirades might be rooted in the Vice President’s realization that he will not be the President’s anointed one in the 2016 presidential race. (READ: Binay seeks Aquino endorsement for 2016)
“Siguro ganyan talaga ang pulitika sa ating bansa. Baka napag-isip siyang ‘di sya mae-endorso natin kaya kailangan ipakita niya hindi niya kailangan ang endorsement o mas may maganda siyang kayang magawa,” Aquino said.
(I guess that’s just how Philippine politics is. Maybe he realized I will not endorse him, that’s why he has to show he doesn’t need it or he can do so much more.)
The Aquino and Binay families have long-standing personal ties. Like the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr, the President’s father, Binay fought against the Marcos dictatorship. When President Corazon Aquino took office in 1986, Binay was named officer-in-charge of Makati City, putting him and his family members at the helm of the city government ever since.
In 2010, although Aquino and Binay ran under different political alliances, their good camaraderie remained. That good relationship continued until 2013 even when Binay led the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). (READ: VP Binay willnever leave Aquino’s side)
Their relationship might have started to turn sour in 2014, when the Senate began its hearings on the alleged overpriced Makati City Parking Building II, which led to other corruption allegations against the Vice President and his family. The Binay camp had alleged that the hearings were meant to derail the Vice President’s 2016 plans. (READ: The Lord of Makati: Can Binay explain his wealth?)
But Aquino believed otherwise, saying he even gave Binay the opportunity to maintain his public popularity ratings even if he was from a different political party.
“Lahat ito ay pinagkaloob natin sa kanya, pagkakataon para mapanatili ang popularity ratings bagamat di natin sya kaalyado nung tumakbo sa election. Bagamat noong 2013 nandun sya sa kabilang group, di natin siya parang pinigilan na magkaroon naman ng pagkakaton na ma-recognize ang kanyang trabaho,” Aquino said.
(I gave him all these opportunities so he could maintain his popularity ratings even if he wasn’t an ally when we ran in the elections. Even though he was with the other party in 2013, I did not keep him from having his efforts recognized by the public.)
With only a year left before he steps down, Aquino said he would not allow political matters to distract his administration from doing what he can in his final stretch.
He added, “Hindi ako papayag na madi-distract ‘yung atensyon natin sa paghahalo sa usapang pulitika na palagay ko naman klarong-klaro sa taumbayan kung sino ang nagsasabi ng tama at mali.”
(I will not allow our attention to be distracted by political issues. I’m certain it’s clear to the people who is lying and who is telling the truth.)
In a statement, Binay spokesperson Rico Quicho maintained that the Vice President had raised some “governance issues” with Aquino, though in private, and not during Cabinet meetings. He did not say what these issues were.
“The Vice President gave his commitment to work hand in hand with the President from the very start. In several private moments, Vice President Binay shared with the President his views on governance issues, something that Roxas and his LP allies in the Cabinet were not privy to,” Quicho said. – Rappler.com