SMARTING from the continuing Senate hearings against him, Vice President Jejomar Binay vowed that if he is elected President next year, he will pursue corruption charges against government officials only if there is strong evidence against them.
“I wish I will be remembered as a President who was not vindictive, a President who can be called a unifying President,” Binay told reporters at Polillo Island in Quezon province even as he stressed the need for genuine justice.
“I am a lawyer. I was a litigation lawyer. If there is evidence, charges must be filed. It’s part of the fight against corruption,” he said.
“Before we talk about sending someone to jail, we should first see if there is evidence,” Binay said.
“If there is no evidence and you just send someone to jail, you will only be going around the need to present evidence. That means you only filed a case because you wanted someone in jail although you know there is really no evidence,” he said.
Binay cited the cases of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, all opposition leaders who are now detained for supposed misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund.
The Vice President urged the Aquino administration to be fair in handling their case because it will “test if the drive for reforms will be blind to political motives.”
“If it stops with the filing of the plunder cases against three senators, who are not political allies and confines itself to the [Janet] Napoles case, it will create the impression of being selective, and that political partisanship – not justice – is the sole motivation behind these charges,” he said.
Binay noted that the Department of Justice has yet to file charges against other lawmakers involved in the alleged P10-billion scam although it has been a year after the first of three batches of cases were filed.
Aside from the continuing Senate probe, the vice president himself is facing charges after 10 senators signed a Senate blue ribbon committee report recommending the filing of plunder raps against him over the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall 2 building.
Binay has maintained that the charges were only politically-motivated and meant to demonize him before voters ahead of the May 2016 presidential elections.
Binay made the remarks after joining the inauguration of the government-owned Claro M. Recto Memorial District Hospital in Infanta, Quezon along with Sen. Ralph Recto and Quezon Gov. David Suarez.
Suarez, a close ally of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is now a supporter of Binay and his family, including father former Rep. Danilo Suarez and mother Aleta, have vowed to campaign for Binay in 2016.
Binay and former Congressman Suarez flew to the island towns of Polilio, Burdeos and Panukulan, where he was to meet with local officials and also to distribute wheelchairs and medicines to senior citizens, his office said in a statement.
On Friday, Binay shrugged off President Benigno Aquino’s refusal to endorse him for the 2016 presidential elections, saying he is confident that the majority of voters, as shown by various opinion polls, would elect him to the highest post in the land.
“That’s done. The President has spoken. Let’s respect that,” Binay told reporters when asked if he would still try to persuade Aquino to change his mind.
Binay continues to hold the lead in several surveys of voter preferences for the 2016 presidential elections. Senator Grace Poe recently rose to the number two spot in the same polls.
Earlier, Binay told a forum he was still seeking Aquino’s endorsement, saying this could translate to votes.
“Up to the last minute, I hope I will be considered, even if just considered,” Binay said in a news conference at the Luneta Hotel in Manila.
“I expect that. I am hoping that the time will come when he will consider me,” Binay said.
But Aquino on Thursday doused cold water on the suggestion, saying the two of them had been on opposite sides of the political fence since 2010.
Binay has repeatedly said that he owed his political career to Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, who first appointed him officer-in-charge of Makati in 1986.
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