The senatorial race for the midterm elections in May has turned into personal attacks against rival candidates Team PNoy senatorial candidate and former senator Jamby Madrigal and Nancy Binay of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
Madrigal on Thursday branded Binay as "elitist" for crying harassment and complaining of “demolition jobs” after her mother was initially prevented from leaving for the Vatican last Monday.
Nancy's mother, former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay was briefly held at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after authorities learned that a hold departure order has been issued by the Bureau of Immigration against her. She was eventually allowed to leave for Rome with Vice President Jejomar Binay to attend the inaugural mass of Pope Francis.
NAIA immigration sources confirmed that there was an existing and active Hold Departure Order from the Sandiganbayan 5th Division in connection with a graft case she is facing as former Makati mayor.
But she was eventually allowed to board the plane after immigration officials at the airport cleared Mrs. Binay to leave the country.
Madrigal said in a statement, "Binay has no right to feel that way. She should not demand special treatment and privileges for her mother, just because she is the wife of the Vice President. No one is above the law.”
“For one who wants to become a lawmaker, she should be the last to say that,” she said of Nancy, who is running for a Senate seat in the upcoming elections. “Just because she is the wife of the Vice President, why should she be given special privileges? This smacks of elitism on the part of Nancy Binay. Sobra naman siyang elitista,” Madrigal said.
"Mrs. Binay has pending graft cases from alleged bidding anomalies in the purchase of fixtures and furniture for the Makati City hall during her term as Makati mayor. How can Nancy say it’s harassment?” Madrigal asked.
Madrigal also questioned the authority of the Department of Justice to allow her to leave when it was the Sandiganbayan who has the sole authority to lift such orders.
“Only the Sandiganbayan has the authority to lift a Hold-Departure Order on a respondent of a graft case. Perhaps, Secretary De Lima should explain whether she exceeded her authority when she got herself involved in a judicial matter overruling a hold departure order of the Sandiganbayan,” Madrigal said.
Binay retorted: “How can I be an elitist; my name is not even Madrigal and I eat galunggong (round scad),” she said in reaction to Madrigal’s criticism.
She also appealed that “political attacks” against her mother should stop.
“I hope Mrs. Madrigal would check her facts first before she makes such statements,” Nancy Binay said, insisting that the Binay family was not receiving special privileges.
The Vice President’s daughter said she "does not have an old rich surname like Madrigal, and unlike the LP candidate." She eats galunggong, considered a poor man’s fish, she said.
During the 2010 election, Madrigal said she does not eat galunggong or is aware of its price because she was a vegetarian.
Binay appealed to Madrigal not to use the issue of the delay in the departure of her mother, former Makati mayor Elenita Binay to the Vatican, to get media coverage. She said the statements of Madrigal were unfortunate, since these were not supported by facts.
Binay added that all of her mother’s travels have been approved by the Sandiganbayan and the recent one to the Vatican was no different. She had said the courts had allowed her mother to go overseas but apparently the Immigration Bureau was not immediately informed.
“There is no special privilege accorded to us and we are not asking for it. My mother's travel activities are permitted by the court. We always comply with legal requirements,” Binay said.