MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay refused to engage Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano in a word war but took a swipe at the man attacking him over his statements on the pork barrel scam.
Binay dismissed Cayetano’s statement that a Binay administration might “abandon” the case. Binay’s close allies Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile are respondents in the multi-billion peso corruption case.
“Let him speak for himself. Bakit ba pati ako pinipilit niyang magsalita? I’ve said my piece and that’s it,” Binay said in an interview at his Pag-IBIG Fund office in Makati on Monday, March 3. (Why do I need to comment?)
Yet Binay later said that declaring his presidential bid early made him a favorite target of attacks. Without naming him, Binay took a swipe at Cayetano, who Rappler reported to be eyeing the presidency in 2016. Cayetano dodged the issue but did not deny the report.
In response, Binay said, “Ako po, hindi ipokrito kaya kara-karaka ako ay sinasabing magkakandidato [ako]. Hindi katulad ng iba na hmmm kung anu-ano ang style, iyon bang paninira ng kapwa para makakuha ng mileage.”
(I am not hypocritical so I outright declared my candidacy. I’m not like the others who hmmm have different styles like attacking their neighbor to gain mileage.)
The Vice President said that while declaring his bid early had its downside, the positive effect is that people get to scrutinize him and his qualifications for president.
“So iyon ang kaiigihan ng maaga ka, binabantayan ka na. Eh ang mga pakipot-kipot diyan eh ayaw sigurong mausisa where they’re coming from,” Binay said.
(So that’s the good thing about declaring early, people are assessing you. As for those who play hard to get, maybe they do not want people to check where they’re coming from.)
Last week, Cayetano said Binay’s statements on the case “belittling” the justice department’s efforts raised fears that “the case might be abandoned once he wins as president.”
The Vice President was initially quoted as saying that the testimony of self-confessed bagman Ruby Tuason was a “dud” but later clarified that what he said was accepting Tuason as state witness might indicate that the prosecution’s case was weak. (READ: Expedite pork trial before 'Binay admin')
Estrada, Enrile and Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr face a plunder complaint for allegedly funneling their pork barrel funds to fake non-governmental organizations in exchange for kickbacks.
‘Let DOJ continue investigation’
The Vice President also commented on the newest “provisional state witness” in the pork barrel case, Technology Resource Center director general (on leave) Dennis Cunanan.
The justice department’s decision to accept Cunanan and Tuason as possible state witnesses sparked concerns that those implicated in the scam may go scot free if they just decide to cooperate with authorities.
This time, Binay was more circumspect with his remarks.
“Let them continue with the investigation. Mahirap naman mag-speculate kung ano ang magiging end game. Eh ‘di panoorin natin kung ano ang nangyayari.” (It’s hard to speculate what will be the end game. Let us just wait and see what happens.)
Asked if the pork barrel scam will be an election issue in 2016, Binay said it depends how long the scandal will play out.
“You are the ones in media. If the discussion drags on, that will be an issue. If it ends earlier, that might die down. It will have its natural death so it depends. If they will file more cases, then it will be an issue. I don’t think it’s over. I think COA is still preparing something so the investigation will go on. Let us wait for it.”
Binay said the Supreme Court already ruled on the unconstitutionality of the congressional pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
He also mentioned the administration’s controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). His allies in the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) criticized the Aquino administration for the supposedly illegal program.
“The DAP, it’s still pending with the courts so let us wait what the decision of the Supreme Court will be,” Binay said.
‘Who is the good administrator?’
Binay reiterated that his critics are attacking him and his family to undermine his presidential candidacy.
Last week, UNA secretary-general Toby Tiangco blasted the Office of the Special Prosecutor of the Office of the Ombudsman for “digging up” the cases of Binay’s wife former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay.
Binay said, “Tatadtarin ka ng kung anu-anong charges. Kita mo ang buong pamilya ko ngayon ay kung anu-anong mga paninira [ang binabato sa kanila].” (They will pound you with whatever kinds of charges. You see my whole family now is the subject of all kinds of attacks.)
The Vice President’s son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, drew flak last December for allegedly ordering the arrest of guards of the Dasmariñas Village who insisted on implementing village rules barring his convoy from passing through the Banyan exit. Cayetano and netizens said the incident smacked of abuse of power.
Amid all the renewed talk of politics, Binay said he is focused on doing his job as housing czar and presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers concerns.
“Modesty aside, these shelter agencies, the test of the pudding is in the eating. The Pag-IBIG Fund just reported we have a dividend declaration of P11 billion.”
Addressing his critics, Binay said, “The issue for us is: are you prepared or are you a good administrator or manager? Do you have sufficient experience for the job you’re aspiring?” – Rappler.com