ALLIES of President Benigno Aquino III have begun weeding out supporters of Vice President Jejomar Binay from the ruling Liberal Party and are demanding that the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) remove itself from the majority coalition in the House of Representatives.
The Palace also wants officials identified with the Vice President holding strategic posts in various housing agencies to resign.
“I don’t see the logic why UNA would remain with the majority coalition after Vice President Binay resigned from the Cabinet and announced he would lead the opposition,” said Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, the Liberal Party’s vice chairman for political affairs, in an interview over radio dzBB on Sunday. “It’s time for them to go.”
Erice pointed out that the Vice President’s daughter, Makati City Rep. Abigail Binay, has said she would stay in the ruling coalition in the House.
“How is this possible when UNA has been hitting the policies of the administration?” Erice said. “Does this mean UNA congressmen, including Abby Binay, would support the policies and legislation of the administration?”
He said he would questioned the continued presence of UNA members in the ruling coalition before the plenary, saying they would create trouble and confusion.
Erice also insisted that Binay’s allies in government agencies should resign so as not to block the administration’s policies.
“It should be clear not only in various agencies but also in the House of Representatives. For example, Binay resigned but his men are still everywhere so Binay remains
in control of the agencies he once headed such as the HUDCC (Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council),” Erice said.
All these heads of agencies that were appointed by Binay did not relinquish their posts when Binay resigned from the Cabinet and gave up the housing portfolios, the congressman said.
“Resigning is just a gimmick. Binay remains in control of the departments that he used to head,” Erice added.
A spokesman for Binay, Joey Salgado, said Erice was misinformed.
“The heads of housing agencies are presidential appointees,” Salgado said “Some of the board members have fixed terms of office while some are co-terminus with the President.”
He said Binay made recommendations based on individual qualifications and willingness to serve in government.
“Yet, the Palace is again adding up the so-called favors given to the Vice President,” he said.
UNA interim president Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said the party would leave it up to individual members to decide whether or not to leave the majority coalition in the House.
Tiangco said he left the coalition in December 2011, when he exposed the railroading of the impeachment complaint signed by 188 lawmakers to oust then Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“I think they will have to make a stand individually. As UNA interim president, my stand is very consistent. The party stand is: be guided by your conscience and be guided by what is best for your constituents,” Tiangco told The Standard.
On another front, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, the presumptive Liberal Party candidate for president in 2016, is now after seven mayors in Misamis Oriental who are identified with Binay and threatened them with administrative charges for going abroad without securing a travel authority from his department.
The department’s provincial office confirmed Thursday that Mayors Wellie Lim (Lugait), Enerito Acain V (Initao), Jaime Roa (Naawan), Oliver Ubaub (Laguindingan), Paulino Emano (Tagoloan), Grace Jardin (Jasaan) and Ken Niño Uyguangco (Medina) left for Europe on the first week of June and returned to the province last week, June 19.
On June 16, Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Vicente Emano confirmed that some mayors were indeed on vacation in Europe.
“On Wednesday, June 24, our central office directed the provincial and regional DILG to ask details from the capitol regarding the mayors’ Europe travel,” said Edward Bhagwani, provincial director of Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Last week, Bhagwani told the SunStar in Cagayan de Oro that all government officials and workers on international trips should secure a travel authority and that his office did not receive any request on travel abroad from any Misamis Oriental mayor.
“We have to point out that they are obliged to ask for travel authority since they are government officials… regardless of the nature of the travel,” Bhagwani said.
The mayors only filed a leave of absence, claiming they were traveling on a personal capacity, Bhagwani said.
But the DILG said not seeking a travel authority was tantamount to “abandoning their posts.”
Critics of the mayors said it was the Vice President who funded their European trip, an allegation that was immediately denied by the Binay camp.
Emano produced papers showing he approved the mayors’ leave of absence but Bhagwani said the papers may have been antedated when his office asked for it on June 24.
Bhagwani said government officials and employees who do not comply with the travel authority requirement could be charged administratively before the Ombudsman, and if found guilty of violating the DILG circular, face suspension.
The Palace on Sunday denied calling for housing officials associated with Binay to resign.
Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said a transcript of her remarks show that she did not issue a call for the resignation of Binay appointees.
She said she merely reminded them that the “norm” was to submit their courtesy resignations, now that Binay has resigned.
But Valte stopped short of asking the Binay appointees to leave, saying it was up to them “to reflect” on the matter. – With Sandy Araneta
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