VICE President Jejomar Binay lashed out at Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II for the first time on Friday, blaming him for the misery of commuters who ride the Metro Rail Transit, which he said deteriorated under Roxas’ watch when he was Transport secretary.
“For the Filipino people, it’s no joke to ride daily the MRT trains that constantly break down,” Binay said, addressing Roxas directly.
“And it is certainly not laughable to consider that despite the vaunted economic growth, many of our people are mired in poverty and are starving. This is serious, Mr. Roxas. It’s not a joke,” Binay said.
Binay was reacting to Roxas’ remark that it was laughable that Binay would claim the Aquino administration was callous and incompetent.
Roxas said Binay, who resigned from the Cabinet Monday, had five years to point out the wrongdoings of the administration but did nothing.
“Try telling that to hundreds of thousands who ride the MRT trains daily, and see whether they find it all laughable,” Binay told Roxas.
Binay also said he was not silent when he was a member of the Cabinet and he took up key issues when necessary.
“The President said I was silent for five years. Maybe he forgets that on the big issues, like the Zamboanga siege or the Disbursement Acceleration Program, we spoke at length and I told him what I thought,” Binay said.
He recalled that during the 2013 Zamboanga siege, he found a way to lay the groundwork for a ceasefire.
“But the fighting was relentless, and their decision could no longer be bent, first of all because he [President Benigno Aquino III] was so mad at Nur Misuari.”
Binay also said he gave timely advice that the DAP, a brainchild of Budget Secretary and LP stalwart Florencio Abad, was unconstitutional.
“When the Supreme Court declared it illegal, I said, we should heed the ruling,” Binay said.
“And now, it has been revealed to our people that DAP was used for projects that did not help the poor,” he added.
The Vice President said contrary to claims that the DAP has been abolished, it remains alive under different names.
As housing czar, Binay said he sought to carry out sweeping reforms in the housing sector, but “the budget for housing agencies was given to DILG, which has no mandate to build homes.”
That transfer of funds was questioned in budget hearings by the minority in Congress, but Budget Secretary Abad, with help from allies in the House, pursued it.
“Politics dictates who should get the bigger budget, especially their people who have plans to run in the elections,” Binay said.
Abad, however, said Binay’s attack was hypocritical.
“I find it hypocritical that he is ranting against DAP when two housing agencies he chaired, NHA (National Housing Authority) and HGC (Home Guaranty Corporation), received P11.450 billion in DAP funds in October 2011,” said Abad in a text message to reporters in Malacanang.
Binay chaired the NHA and the HGC, which were recipients of DAP funds.
Abad said Binay never raised any issue when the two agencies received and used those funds.
“Why was it okay then, and not ok now when he is out of government? When was he telling the truth?,” Abad said.
Binay said he lasted five years in the Cabinet because he wanted to help the poor, but could only stand so much, especially when he realized that even after five years, poverty was so pervasive.
Binay slammed the former Transport secretary for being callous to the plight of millions of MRT commuters, who suffered from the daily glitches and an increase in fares without a public hearing.
Under Roxas’ term as DOTC secretary, the running MRT trains went down from 73 to just 16, Binay said. On Friday, only seven trains ran.
“To temporarily solve the problems, workers have to make do with discarded parts because of the lack of spare parts, which was supposed to be provided by maintenance contractors,” he said.
Binay said that it was the common people who ride the MRT daily, and that poverty in not funny.
“It is not funny that despite progress, many Filipinos remain poor and hungry. This is a serious matter, Mr. Roxas. Not something to laugh about.,” Binay said in Filipino.
The Vice President said he quit his Cabinet posts because he felt his colleagues were treating him like a lepper.
Binay still thanked the President for letting him be a member of the Cabinet, but said he returned the favor by faithfully serving him, and worked hard to help Filipino workers abroad and to reform the housing sector.
In the Palace, the President’s spokespersons kept up the attack on Binay, saying his portrayal of himself as an underdog in the Cabinet was “a gross misrepresentation.”
“The truth is he was given all the respect due the second highest official in the land during Cabinet meetings,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
Contrary to being left out, Binay was the only vice president in the country’s history to be given an official residence by the sitting President, Lacierda added.
The President also gave Binay the portfolios that he sought, the Palace official said.
Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte denied Binay’s allegations that the administration was doing nothing to help the poor.
“You know this is a very stark turnaround from what the Vice President had been saying. So this markedly different from his statements from one week ago, from two weeks ago, even if you go as far back as 2010,” said Valte.
Valte said they could always open the government records on the budget and programs, and see that Binay’s claim was wrong.
Also on Friday, Social Weather Stations (SWS) said Binay’s net satisfaction rating had bounced back to a “good” or +42 since June last year.
Binay’s rating improved from +31 in March 2015 to +42 in June 2015.
Earlier, his net satisfaction rating had dropped consecutively from +73 in March 2014; to +67 in June 2014; +52 in September 2014; +44 in December 2014; and +31 in March 2015. It then recovered in June 2015 with +42.
Binay’s ratings had been dropping during the past several months, after he was linked to allegations of corruption in some Makati projects when he was still mayor of the city.
Binay, who is facing graft charges before the Office of the Ombudsman, has denied all the allegations.
The same SWS survey showed that the net satisfaction rating of the Senate improved slightly, from +31 in March to +33 in June.
The Supreme Court experienced a dip in its rating, as did the entire Cabinet.
The SWS survey said Binay’s net satisfaction rating rose to a “good” +42 (64 percent satisfied minus 22 percent dissatisfied), up 11 points from the +31 in March 2015 despite being displaced by a first-term senator in the most recent quarterly presidential SWS survey.
The SWS survey said Senate President Franklin Drilon suffered the highest drop in his net satisfaction rating, falling from +35 in March (“good”) to +29 in June (“moderate”).
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. also incurred a similar drop in his rating, from +12 to only +9.
The Palace said the bounce in Binay’s rating was not a cause for concern, saying the survey did not cover the period in which Binay resigned from the Cabinet.
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