MANILA - A word war between Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Vice-President Jejomar Binay is heating up after the senator challenged the vice-president to jail his own allies if they are found guilty in the P10 billion pork barrel scam.
Cayetano said the Vice-President is downplaying the testimonies of whistle-blowers against his allies, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada. This runs counter to Binay's statements against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo whom he accused of corruption.
"Pakisabi Toby, yun ang challenge ko kay Vice-President. Mag-statement lang siya na kahit anong mangyari, kung nandiyan ang ebidensya ikukulong ko ang mga yan. Wala siyang sinasabi e. Bagkus baliktad pa. Sinabi niya dud yung ebidensya tapos sinabi niya trial by publicity. Bakit si Gloria Macapagal Arroyo trial by publicity, araw-araw siya nagpapa-rally? Pagdating sa kakampi niya ayaw niyang sabihin," he said in an interview on ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda.
The Vice-President earlier contradicted the statement of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima that socialite Ruby Tuason's testimony in the pork barrel scam was "slam dunk evidence."
He later told reporters that he did not describe Tuason's testimony a dud. He said he doubts that the socialite will qualify as a state witness.
Cayetano again pushed for the creation of a special court to try the plunder, bribery and malversation charges filed against 38 people linked to the pork barrel scam. He said this will be similar to the special division of the Sandiganbayan that heard the plunder case against former President Joseph Estrada.
The senator said that since plunder is a non-bailable crime, it would be better for the accused to have a speedy trial instead of letting it drag on for 10 to 15 years.
"Plunder is a non-bailable crime. If you are innocent and in jail, would you rather that the trial be long or short? Why would you want it to last 10 years?" he said.
For his part, Navotas congressman and United Nationalist Alliance secretary-general Toby Tiangco accused Cayetano of using the pork barrel scam to boost his own possible bid for higher office in 2016.
He said Cayetano is conditioning the minds of people when he said that there is fear that Binay would be lenient on his allies if he is elected president in the next election.
"Sana naman, Senator Alan, kung gusto mong mamulitika, wag ka nang mandamay ng ibang tao. Wag mo nang gamitin ang pangalan ng ibang tao. Derechuhin mo na lang. Ikampanya mo sarili mo pero sabihin mo pangamba ng taumbayan, nagpa-survey ka ba na may pangamba? Ilang tao ba ang nakausap mo para sabihin na yan ay pangamba ng taumbayan?" he asked.
Tiangco said Cayetano used the same tactic in 2010 when he labeled the Liberal Party as the "tropang topak" or the "trapos, oportunistas, and kamag-anaks." At that time, Cayetano was campaigning for Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar Jr.
"Dati nung 2010 sino ba ang nagsabing tropang topak ang LP? Ngayon kasama na siya sa tropang topak. Wag niyo nang isama si Vice President Binay sa usapan. Kung gusto mong mamulitika dahil nag announce ka na ikaw ay tatakbong presidente, you campaign for yourself. Wag mo nang isama ibang tao," Tiangco said.
The UNA official said Vice-President Binay is fighting for the rule of law and that the innocent remain so until they are proven guilty.
He also said Binay will not stop the pork scam investigation even if he is elected president.
"Kahit siya ang manalo sa 2016, tuloy pa rin ho ang mga kaso," he said.
Tiangco rejected Cayetano's proposal for a special division that will hear the plunder cases, saying that the senator should trust the courts.
"Magtiwala tayo sa ating justice system. Kung mabagal, tulungan na lang natin na mapabilis," he said.