VP should have taken questions from media, says CMFR chair
Controversies to have an impact on Binay's ratings, says Pulse Asia chief
MANILA - There was nothing new in the Thursday speech of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is facing corruption allegations in connection with the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2.
This was the common view of Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) chairman of the board Vergel Santos, and Pulse Asia President Ronald Holmes, after Binay delivered his speech at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on Thursday afternoon.
Speaking to ANC, Santos said he found the vice president's speech lacking, as Binay once again answered the accusations thrown against him only "in very general terms."
He said Binay failed to speak convincingly that he did not commit any wrongdoing in the construction of the 11-storey Makati City office and parking building, which is the subject of a plunder complaint against him, his son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, and other Makati government officials.
"It seems to me that the accusations are credible enough. It's another thing to say that they are in fact true. But whether they are credible enough, they are," Santos stressed.
Holmes, likewise, said he was not satisfied with Binay's answers. He said Binay did not provide new details in the prepared statement that he read before supporters and media.
He also noted that Binay should have instead delivered his speech right after the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee conducted its first investigation into the issue.
"It was like delaying to the public something that he could have done earlier, things that are known," he said.
According to Santos, the vice president should have provided solid information as to why the Makati City Hall Building 2 was not overpriced as he claimed. "But this did not happen at all [in his speech]," he said.
"I was waiting for a more detailed discussion as to why the cost came out to be more than P2 billion," Holmes added.
Santos said Binay should have also taken questions from the media before leaving the event.
"I would have wanted him to stay up there and take questions," he said. "This is not my idea of a confrontation."
In his speech, Binay again denied that he benefited from the construction of the Makati City Hall Building 2. He said that if there was any kickback given for the project, it was only for then Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado.
Mercado had admitted during his appearance at the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee that he got kickbacks from the construction of the overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2. He also claimed that the former Makati mayor also received kickbacks.
According to Santos, Binay's defense that he did not have any knowledge on the supposedly corrupt practices of his then Vice Mayor Mercado can be taken against him since it only implies that he had exercised a "clueless leadership."
Santos noted that Binay and Mercado were even former allies.
"This should bother the nation. Because this is a man running for the presidency admitting effectively that he exercised clueless leadership," he said.
Holmes readily agreed with Santos, saying that letting a subordinate get away with his wrongdoings is a strong measure of the capacity of a leader to monitor the behavior of the people below him.
TARGET OF ATTACK
Meanwhile, the two said Binay should stop saying that all allegations against him are politically motivated, and instead just answer the issues head on.
Santos pointed out that the vice president's speech itself was also politically motivated, and was seemingly geared towards his presidential aspirations.
"While his own accusers may have been themselves politically motivated, there is no doubt that he himself is. But that's how things are in Philippine politics."
"Too general, his speech was too political. It seemed intended for electoral consumption," Santos said.
Santos and Holmes also stressed that Binay should have long expected that he would be a target of attacks since he had long declared he would run for president in 2016.
"He has been waving his red flag of presidential ambition too early in the game," Santos said. "He's the target to attack. He's the frontrunner and he happens to be a far frontrunner."
According to a June 24 to July 2 survey of Pulse Asia, Binay was the top contender for the 2016 presidential elections. He obtained 41-percent preference of 1,200 respondents, beating other perceived aspirants by a wide margin.
Holmes noted, however, that the controversies Binay is facing now will have an impact on his performance and trust ratings.
"Controversies do tend to have a negative effect... In this particular case, I think this has gone on for over a month. So definitely, there will be an impact," he said.