Aquino: ‘Man to beat’ Binay should explain on corruption claims

Bea Cupin

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Aquino: ‘Man to beat’ Binay should explain on corruption claims
The President says whether Binay remains the 2016 front runner 'rests on his ability to be able to answer all of the allegations that he is being confronted with'

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay may top early surveys on the 2016 presidential elections, but President Benigno Aquino III says his status as the “man to beat” in the coming polls depends on his ability to answer corruption allegations against him. 

“The impression has been that he has been at the forefront of the challenge if we look at all of the surveys. But at the same time, I think that question rests on his ability to be able to answer all of the allegations that he is being confronted with at this present time,” Aquino said on the sidelines of an education department event in Marikina City on Monday, May 25. 

Binay, the leader of the political opposition, has been leading surveys on voters’ preferred presidential candidates for 2016. He is the only aspirant to have announced his plans – and has the ready machinery – for a 2016 bid.

But Binay is also at the center of a huge corruption scandal, the basis of a months-long probe by the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee and of charges pending before the Ombudsman. Binay is accused of pocketing millions during his stint as mayor of Makati, allegedly through infrastructure projects. 

Binay also allegedly hid his wealth through dummies. Recently, the Court of Appeals (CA) froze the bank accounts of Binay and his alleged dummies over allegedly anomalous transactions as flagged by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC)

During the same chance interview with reporters, Aquino heaped praises on Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, the presumed standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) whom he considers on “top of the list” for 2016 presidential candidates. 

The President, however, said the party would not be announcing its bet for 2016 until after his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 2015. 

The filing of candidacies for the 2016 elections are set for October 2015. 

Thanks, but…

In a statement on Monday, Binay “thanked” the President for his statement, while blasting the AMLC for “depriving” him and his camp “of the chance to refute point by point their false, misleading, and erroneous conclusions.” 

The AMLC report was made public to the public when the CA released its resolution freezing the accounts of Binay and his purported dummies. AMLC investigations, by law, are not allowed to be released to the public. 

“I am very confident that we can debunk all the false, erroneous, and misleading conclusions of AMLC, which is just part of a conspiracy of the Liberal Party to unleash government agencies against my family and private individuals in their efforts to malign me,” added the Vice President. 

Binay has long insisted that the cases against him and the Senate probe are merely ploys to ruin his chances in the 2016 elections. Liberal Party members and Binay’s political foes insist it’s not. 

The Vice President also blasted the Senate in his statement, for “prejudging” him and for “[depriving] government officials and private individuals of their constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.” –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.