Poe to Binay: Honesty over experience

MANILA, Philippines – “Hindi sa haba ng serbisyo ang kailangang batayan kundi ang kalidad ng serbisyo at katapatan.” (It's not the length of service that is the standard but the quality of service and honesty.)

Neophyte senator Grace Poe challenged Vice President Jejomar Binay's statement that “experience and competence” should be the basis for electing leaders in the 2016 presidential polls. 

Poe candidly responded to the veiled criticism from the opposition's standard bearer by admitting her inexperience, but also playing up her strengths as an honest lawmaker. 

Kung ikumpara sa kanya, maikli lang ang oras ng aking paninilbihan, pero hindi naman sa pagbubuhat ng bangko…ay sinikap ko namang gumawa ng marami para makatulong lalo na sa mga pinakamahirap nating mga kababayan na naapi at hindi nadidinig,” Poe said on Monday, May 18. 

(Compared to him, my time in government is much shorter, but not to boast, I tried to do a lot to help the poorest of our countrymen who are abused and voiceless.) 

She said honesty was the same consideration in electing the late President Corazon Aquino, whom Binay supported as a human rights lawyer during the martial law days. 

Poe responded to the statement Binay made in Cagayan de Oro City on Sunday that “it would be risky to entrust the next government to those without experience and competence since it would perpetuate the problems besetting the country today.”

The senator is only nearing her second year as a legislator, after her stint as chief of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

Poe said instead of talking about leadership and 2016, Binay should just show honesty by responding to the various corruption allegations against him. 

“It should not just be his spokesperson who will explain. Even I, I cannot deny that we have common experiences, but we cannot ask him about these issues. I also want to know. That's why it is so hard to attend hearings when the accused himself does not show up because it's like you are talking behind that person's back,” Poe said in Filipino.

The senator said that evidence and the public will ultimately judge Binay following a series of corruption scandals during his leadership of the country's financial district, Makati, in over two decades. 

Last week, the Court of Appeals (CA) issued a freeze order on the bank accounts of Binay, his wife Elenita, son Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr, and alleged dummies over “large and frequent” transactions done during the construction of the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building, and the Makati Science High School. 

Poe laughed when asked whether the AMLC also looked into her bank accounts. 

Hindi pag-aaksayahan ng [AMLC] 'yung aking account dahil, unang-una, baka maawa pa sila sa akin,” she said in jest. 

Mga P500,000 per transaction ay bihira tayong umabot doon. Bukas naman tayo, hindi nga tagong yaman 'yung issue sa amin, pero pagkakataon ng kahit na sino kung may tanong.

(The AMLC will not waste time on my account because, first, they might even pity me. My transactions hardly reach P500,000. But we are open to that, even if hidden wealth is not the issue against me, I'm open to whoever has questions.)

Poe reiterated her support for the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, the transparency measure she sponsored to ensure access to government records and data. 

The senator is the hot topic of political talk and speculation because of her strong survey showing. She is believed to be a viable candidate to beat Binay. In the March 2015 Pulse Asia survey, Poe ranked second with 14%, next to Binay who got 29%. 

President Benigno Aquino III met with Poe in early May to discuss possibly drafting her for higher office under his ruling Liberal Party (LP) in 2016.

'Comfortable with Chiz but no party' 

Poe addressed reports that LP members are lobbying for a tandem between her and her close friend, Senator Francis Escudero, or one with her and Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, LP president-on-leave. 

The front runner in the 2013 senatorial race said she was more “comfortable” with Escudero than with Roxas. 

Escudero was the campaign spokesperson of her father, the late action star Fernando Poe Jr, when he ran for president in 2004. Senator Grace Poe and Escudero were also partners in their 2013 campaign, and now in the Senate. 

“Hindi naman maipagkakaila na mahaba na ang pinagsamahan namin. 2004 pa lang magkasama na kami sa tatay ko. Marami na siyang napatunayan sa paninilbihan sa gobyerno … Pero hindi naman lamang iyon ang magiging basehan. Unang-una, pareho kaming walang partido,” Poe said. 

(We cannot deny that we went through a lot. Back in 2004, we were already together for my father. He has proven a lot in government service. But that is not the only basis. First, both of us have no party.)

Poe said she and Escudero only joke about 2016 in private discussions.

Escudero said in a separate interview that whether or not he runs for higher office, he will remain independent. He has no plans of joining any political party, effectively ruling out the LP. 

The senator reiterated that for independent politicians like him and Poe, money and machinery are key considerations. 

“'Yung mga pinanganak na hindi mayaman, 'yon naman talaga palagi ang konsiderasyon: kung saan kukuha ng resources, kung 'yan yung mga taong tutulong sa kanila sa anumang kandidatura.” 

(Those who are not born rich will always consider how to get resources, and the people who will help them in their candidacy.)  Rappler.com