PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III fired back Thursday at Vice President Jejomar Binay, saying the people know who was telling the truth, and who is not.
Reacting to Binay’s attack on his administration Monday, the President said the Vice President never brought up those issues when he was still a member of the Cabinet, but said other Cabinet members would answer his allegations point-by-point.
Aquino admitted he was surprised by Binay’s sudden departure from the Cabinet, and said he called up the Vice President after he received his resignation letter, which was submitted to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.
“I was surprised why there was a resignation at this point in time. So I called him up and eventually we got to talk and I asked him specifically what was the reason,” Aquino said.
Binay replied, “A lot”, and said that the Vice President would just write it all down and send it to him (Aquino).
“After our conversation, I told him, ‘Okay, I will wait for it’,” said Aquino.
Aquino noted that Binay declared himself as the leader of the opposition on Wednesday.
“Well, I and the Cabinet will answer point-by-point all of the allegations,” Aquino said.
The President also said he never treated Binay like “a spare tire.”
He said that their agreement was he would be given the assignment on housing, and he asked for the work on overseas Filipino Workers. These assignments, Aquino said, gave Binay the opportunity to maintain his popularity ratings.
Aquino said, that although Binay was not an ally, this did not stop him from recognizing his work.
But Aquino said it was not his primary function to become involved in political discussions regarding the 2016 elections.
“I have the responsibility to improve this society, this country. And I will not allow our attention to be distracted by getting involved in political discussions, which I think, it is clear with the people who is telling the truth and who is not,” Aquino said.
Aquino recalled that he and Binay have been together for a long time since the 1986 EDSA Revolution and even before that.
Aquino also recalled that during the 1987 attempted coup, when he was ambushed, Binay was also an ally.
But politics has changed their relationship, he said.
Aquino said Binay may have had many ideas about how to improve he country, but he had an obligation to share these as a Cabinet member but did not.
“Why didn’t he share these? Maybe you should ask him (Binay). If you have any help to provide to make the lives of the people better, which you have vowed to do, why did you make it a secret?,” he asked.
On Wednesday, the Vice President called the Aquino government callous and incompetent.
The presumptive Liberal Party candidate for president next year, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, said he found it laughable that Binay would criticize the administration for its “crooked leadership and selective justice.”
“I find it funny. The thing is, he’s had every single day over the last five years to point out these wrongdoings or mistakes in this administration,” Roxas said.
“But we did not hear anything – zero, until now,” Roxas added.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, on the other hand, defended the Aquino administration from the charge of selective justice.
De Lima said the Vice President should first explain his and his family’s involvement in various graft and corruption charges before even making such accusations.
“Apparently the Vice President has not heard of the saying that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. He should first put his own affairs in order, especially the corruption cases against him and members of his family, before he even starts talking of so-called selective justice. There is no selective justice here,” De Lima said, in a text message to reporters.
“Just because high officials and big fish like him are feeling the long arm of the law does not mean there is selective justice,” she added.
The Vice President, his son, current Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. and several other Makati City officials are facing charges over the alleged overpricing in the construction of the Makati City Parking Building II, which was started when the elder Binay was still Makati mayor.
Early this week, the fact-finding team of the Office of the Ombudsman recommended placing Mayor Binay under preventive suspension and recommended graft charges against him, his father and other Makati City officials over the alleged rigging of the bidding for the construction of the 10-story Makati Science High School building.
Binay’s wife, Elenita is also facing graft charges before the Sandiganbayan for the allegedly overpriced purchase of hospital equipment and furniture during her term as Makati mayor.
In his speech, the first following his resignation from the Cabinet, Binay accused the Aquino administration of employing selective justice against him and his family while turning a blind eye to administration friends and allies implicated in controversies like the pork barrel scam, the Disbursement Acceleration Program which was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, the Metro Rail Transit project and the Mamasapano tragedy that left 44 elite police commandos dead.
De Lima earlier was criticized for the delay in the filing of the third batch of charges related to the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam whose respondents include close allies of the President such as Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Joel Villanueva and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
The first batch of PDAF-related criminal charges were filed in September 2013 against 38 individuals, including opposition Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr., and Jinggoy Estrada, as well as alleged fund scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
The second batch, filed two months later, involved graft complaints against former Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon and 33 others over the alleged misuse of their pork barrel allocations.
Also on Thursday, the Department of Budget and Management denied Binay’s claim that internal revenue allotment (IRA) releases were withheld or delayed.
“We do not withhold these appropriations and they have always been released without condition or delay. All agency transactions between the DBM and LGUs in 2013 have been properly documented,” said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
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