THE Palace said Sunday the highly anticipated debate between Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Antonio Trillanes must push through “to shed light on timely issues” such as the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.
“Having public debates among our political leaders on timely issues is part of healthy and vibrant democracy,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a radio interview.
“We should allow such debates that give more information to our people to push through,” he added.
Binay has dared Trillanes to a one-on-one debate to be hosted by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas and moderated by the law deans of the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and San Beda.
Trillanes readily accepted, saying the debate can be held inside what he called “Hacienda Binay,” a 150-hectare property in Batangas that he insists really belongs to Binay, who denies owning it.
Binay retorted by saying the debate can be held inside a military camp instead, a move which he said would show the true color and character of Trillanes, a failed mutineer.
The Vice President has adamantly refused to attend a Senate subcommittee hearing led by Trillanes and Senator Alan Cayetano on the allegations of corruption being raised against him.
Binay’s spokesman for political affairs, Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, the debate will be scheduled in the next two weeks.
But in a radio interview Sunday, United Nationalist Alliance interim president Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco said he would try to convince Binay from withdrawing from the debate because Trillanes was a liar.
Tiangco, also a congressman representing Navotas, said it was a waste of time to debate with Trillanes because he quickly reverses his words as fast as he utters them.
Tiangco told radio dzBB Trillanes praised businessman Antonio Tiu as “a good friend and visionary” and then called him a “dummy” a month later.
Citing a YouTube video that went viral, Tiangco said Trillanes was singing hallelujahs to Tiu when he attended the opening of the Sunchamp farm owned by the businessman last month.
However, when Tiu came out in the open to claim ownership of the 145-hectare property, Trillanes began singing a different tune and started harassing Tiu this month.
Trillanes and Cayetano said they would file several charges of plunder and tax evasion against Tiu.
Tiangco said the vice president was “ill-advised” in issuing the debate challenge to Trillanes.
Binay said he was willing to face off with Trillanes for as long as the debate would be moderated by members of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters ng Pilipinas.
“The Vice President is out of town. When he gets back, I will try to talk to him and convince him not to debate with Trillanes. The Vice President cannot debate with someone who is a liar. It is just such a waste of his time to debate with a liar. Whatever Trillanes says today, he will reverse tomorrow. We have seen that already,” Tiangco said.
In the video at the opening of the Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park, Trillanes is caught on camera wishing his “good friend” Tony Tiu more power in his other projects, because the venture was a boost to the local economy and the rest of the country.
A month later, he declared that Tiu was a dummy for the Vice President.
“Look how fast Trillanes reverses himself,” Tiangco said. “He contradicts himself and lies to suit his agenda.”
“It is not worth debating with someone who has no word of honor. What do we call someone like that? We call him a liar. Why would you debate with a liar? Why waste time on Trillanes?” Tiangco said.
The proper forum to determine whether Binay was guilty of corruption was before the Ombudsman and the anti-graft court, the Sandiganbayan, Tiangco said.
Tiangco said now that Trillanes has been exposed as a liar, nothing would stop him from inventing stories and producing spurious documents to pin down Binay during the debate.
“Will there be experts to examine the spurious documents that Trillanes would bring up? No. Only in the courts will that examination of documents happen,” he said.
Tiangco said Trillanes has already prejudged the case of corruption against Binay by parroting the “lies” peddled by Binay complainants like the defeated Makati City mayoralty candidate Ernesto Mercado.
“During the hearing, Mercado testified under oath that Binay owns a 350-hectare Batangas farm, which Tiu claimed was only 145 hectares. Did Trillanes or Cayetano correct that? No. Instead of castigating Mercado for lying under oath, Trillanes and Cayetano continued to parrot Mercado’s insistence that the farm was 350 hectares, instead of censuring him,” Tiangco said.
“Mercado should have been cited for contempt for lying before the panel....They’re echoing Mercado’s lies like they have already reached a conclusion that there was... corruption. But all these were not based on hard evidence,” Tiangco said.
Tiangco also took Trillanes to task for using terms like “kulay mahirap” and “asal mayaman” during his inspection of Sunchamp on Thursday, saying this was indicative of the kind of breeding the senator had.
“As a senator, Trillanes should have been more circumspect... but what would you expect from a swell-headed and trash-talking soul who maligns the poor and thinks very lowly of them? A serial political maniac like Senator Trillanes would use every opportunity for his political gain,” Tiango added.
He said Trillanes is so consumed by his anti-Binay agenda that he does not care whether his words would hurt people nor not.
“The senator’s remarks are very insensitive and extremely insulting. Maligning the poor because of their skin color is not just a simple slip of the tongue, but a mindset of someone who does not really care about them. His demeanor and the way he talks say a lot about his character,” Tiangco said.
“It’s about respect. If many people were hurt, it’s only natural to offer an apology. But it’s never in his character to say sorry. He is too proud to apologize,” he added.
On Sunday, Trillanes told radio dzBB he was ready for his debate with Binay.
“I will accept that. I will accept that challenge so that we will have the chance to hear the Vice President on the allegations,” said Trillanes.
He blasted Tiangco for suggesting that the debate be cancelled.
“Why would they backtrack?” Trillanes said.
“I believe that this can be the only opportunity when I can confront him with all these allegations. This is the only venue when I can ask him the questions I had wanted to ask,” Trillanes added.
“We really cannot get anything from him since he continuously defies our invitation [to the Senate hearings],” he said.
Last week, Tiu filed oral defamation charges against Trillanes before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office for calling him a dummy of the Vice President. He maintained he bought the property from Gregorio Laureano for P446 million but had paid only P11 million as a down payment.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said the debate should be televised so the public will see who is telling the truth.
She said television allows people to see the facial expression and non-verbal cues.
“We trial judges have rules on how to tell if a person is lying,” said Santiago, a former Quezon City judge.
“It will be case of legal strategy versus military strategy,” she said.
Santiago noted, however, that Binay was on the defensive, which is “always a weak position.”
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