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Binay camp hits Palace 'scare tactics' vs Cavite school

MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay came to the defense of a government-run school in Cavite, which it said Malacañang is harassing for having hosted Binay’s “True State of the Nation Address” on Monday, August 3.

In a statement on Tuesday, August 4, Joey Salgado, media affairs head of Binay's office, reminded the presidential spokesman that the Vice President's counter-SONA was a form of free speech and it should not be curtailed.

Paalala namin sa Palasyo, tayo ay nasa demokrasya. Hindi dapat nila sinusupil ang malayang palitan ng opinyon lalo na sa ating mga paaralan,” Binay’s media affairs head Joey Salgado said in a statement.

(We are reminding the Palace that we are in a democracy. They should not curtail the free exchange of opinion especially in our schools.)

Salgado is reacting to a tweet posted past midnight on Tuesday by presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, who urged Cavite State University (CvSU) president Divinia Chavez to explain why students were required to attend the Vice President’s "true SONA."

Pres. Divinia Chavez of Cavite State University should perhaps explain why students were required 2 attend VP's TSONA pic.twitter.com/z4colT7Ap3 — Edwin Lacierda (@dawende) August 3, 2015

A photo of the school memo was sent to Rappler and Malacañang showing that 3rd and 4th year college students were required to attend a “student assembly” in the university’s gymnasium on August 3 at 4 pm, the same date and venue for Binay's speech. (READ: Binay in Cavite: Counter-SONA in opposition bailiwick)

A report by GMA News Online also said that the Commission on Higher Education will be looking into reports saying that classes in the CsVU were suspended to allow students to attend the event.

In his counter-SONA, Binay cited as injustice the huge cut that the national government made on the budget of the CvSU and other state-run higher educational institutions.

Kung hindi nila nagustuhan ang malakas na palakpakan ng mga estudyante sa ‘true SONA’ ng Vice President, huwag nilang daanin sa pananakot,” said Salgado. (If they didn’t like the loud applause the students gave the Vice President during his "true SONA," they shouldn’t use scare tactics.)

According to Salgado, asking CvSU to explain the mandatory student attendance is an “overreaction” and a “preview of how the administration will use its power to harass and intimidate during the election season.”

Mister Secretary, martial law na ba uli? (Mister Secretary, is this martial law all over again?)” Salgado asked.

He said this case was similar to the time Health Secretary Janette Garin called out Philippine Public Health Association president Maria Luisa Orezca for inviting Binay as speaker at their annual convention.

Fooling the people?

Lacierda immediately responded to Salgado’s claim of an “undeclared martial law” through his Facebook account early Tuesday afternoon.

He questioned why the CvSU’s memo failed to specifically mention that the Vice President, as the “honored guest speaker,” will be delivering his counter-SONA during a student assembly.

Mr Salgado, pasensya na po, hindi po mangmang ang mga tao, at mawalang-galang na po, palpak na nga po ang TSONA (‘true SONA’) ni VP Binay, palpak na naman ang katwiran ninyo,” said Lacierda.

(Mr Salgado, my apologies, but people are not stupid, and excuse me, VP Binay’s TSONA is a failure and so is your reasoning.)

According to Lacierda, it is “bewildering” for Binay’s camp to “go to great lengths to fool the people.”

He said the Vice President’s speech in Cavite was a mere “rehash” of information already found in the news and Binay could have delivered his speech a day after President Benigno Aquino III’s SONA.

“Second, did he have to go to Cavite State University where it is several miles away from Coconut Palace when he could have shown up at the Senate where it is a hop, skip, and a jump from his official residence to answer all allegations of corruption?” asked Lacierda.

He also questioned why Binay was criticizing the supposed “failed” Aquino administration, when the Vice President himself was a member of the Cabinet for 5 years.

“And having failed to secure the endorsement of the president and perhaps like a woman scorned, begun flailing and railing and ranting against the administration he once praised to high heavens,” said Lacierda. (READ: Aquino endorses Mar Roxas

No prior knowledge

In an interview with GMA-7's 24 Oras on Tuesday night, Chavez swore she was not aware that the CvSU Central Student Government (CSG) invited the Vice President to speak. 

"Hindi ko po talaga alam. Mamatay na po kaming lahat. Sumusumpa po ako; dalawang kamay akong tumataas na hindi ko po talaga alam," the state university president said. (I swear I didn't have prior knowledge.)

In the same news program, CSG president Vincent Bae said the council is responsible for the activity as they were the ones who organized it.

"We are going to be responsible for whatever we did. We believe that as a student government, we are somehow very independent," he said in a mix of English and Filipino. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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