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Endorsing Binay endangers Aquino legacy – Cayetano

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Alan Peter Cayetano challenged Vice President Jejomar Binay to respond to corruption allegations before even thinking about seeking the endorsement of the President.

The Senate majority leader had a strong response to Senator Nancy Binay’s statement that it was possible President Benigno Aquino III will endorse her father's bid in the 2016 presidential polls.

“If the President endorses Vice President Binay without [the Vice President] addressing corruption issues, he will put his own legacy in danger,” said Cayetano in a press briefing in Taguig on Friday, August 1.

Cayetano pointed to the plunder complaint filed against the elder Binay and his son Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr over an allegedly overpriced building in Makati. The senator said that, instead of responding to the merits of the complaint, Binay again said the case was politically motivated.

“Why don’t they just get 3 quantity surveyors to check the building? What we heard was the cost of this 12-floor building is the cost of a first-class building of 25 to 35 floors in Makati or Taguig. That will hang over their heads,” Cayetano said.

Father and son Binay are accused of having a hand in overpricing the building by P1.255 billion ($29 million). The complainants called it “the most expensive parking building in the country,” but the Binays said the structure houses offices of the city government, and is not a mere parking building.

The Binays though have yet to release details and documents to show the building was not overpriced.

Cayetano said that, in contrast, when he was accused of involvement in the pork barrel corruption scandal, he authorized the Commission on Audit (COA) to release all documents in relation to his allocations of development funds.

“Is it because Senator Nancy is correct that everyone is afraid of them because they rank high in surveys? They have people everywhere and they claim they will be the next president. If there is really an endorsement [from the President] and they already cooked that up, it’s good that two years before, people already know if he is corrupt or not,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano latched onto the phrase Senator Binay used to describe a possible Aquino endorsement of her father.

“If that’s icing on the cake, minamaliit ninyo ang tao. Just because mataas ka sa survey, magbubulag-bulagan ang tao?” Cayetano said. (You are belittling people. Just because you are high in surveys, you think people will turn a blind eye on corruption allegations?)

Cayetano said whether accusations are true or not, corruption remains the top issue against the Vice President. He urged him to address it so that he and his family will be spared from unfair allegations.

Besides the complaint over the building, Binay and his wife faced several graft cases during their leadership in Makati, the country’s financial center. Binay was mayor of Makati for 21 years before becoming vice president. His wife served for 3 years.

The secretary-general of the Nacionalista Party (NP), Cayetano has declared his presidential ambitions and repeatedly criticizes Binay. The Vice President is the frontrunner in presidential surveys and has refused to directly respond to attacks from Cayetano.

In the Pulse Asia survey from June 24 to July 2, Binay ranked first among presidential contenders with 41%, while Cayetano was 5th with 5%.

‘They don’t ban the corrupt in Makati’

The rivalry between the Binays and the Cayetanos has extended from the legal battle between Makati and Taguig for Fort Bonifacio to political plans for 2016, and now even to the airwaves.

Senator Nancy Binay pointed out that Cayetano’s political ad was similar to the “Ganito kami sa Makati” (This is how we are in Makati) ad her father used in his 2010 campaign for the vice presidency.

Cayetano’s Taguig ad has been airing on primetime TV for months, two years before the 2016 elections.

In his press briefing, Cayetano revealed that the slogan of Taguig was, “’Pag bawal ang corrupt, bigay todo ang biyaya, mas masaya ang bawat pamilya.” (If the corrupt is banned, there will be full blessings, and each family is happier.) It was an obvious reference to corruption allegations against the Binays.

Asked about Senator Binay’s comment on his ad, Cayetano said he was no copycat.

“’Di namin ginaya ang commercial nila. Sa Taguig, sabi namin bawal ang korap. ‘Di nila sinabi iyan sa Makati.” (We did not copy their commercials. In Taguig, we said we ban the corrupt. They said no such thing in Makati.) – Rappler.com