MANILA - President Aquino on Thursday refused to fire back at Vice-President Jejomar Binay after the latter criticized his administration, saying the vice-president was given every opportunity to serve the people and not function as a spare tire.
Speaking to reporters, the President said Binay's attack was not unexpected since the vice-president belongs to the political opposition and even fielded a separate group of candidates in the 2013 senatorial election.
He said one possible reason for Binay's tirade is because he thought he would be unable to get an endorsement for his presidential bid.
"Siguro ganyan talaga ang pulitika sa ating bansa. Baka naman napaisip siya na hindi siya ma-endorso natin kaya kailangan na ipakita niyang hindi niya kailangan ng endorsement," he said.
On Wednesday, the Vice-President declared himself leader of the opposition and attacked the Aquino administration for being insensitive and callous to the needs of the people.
Aquino said Binay could have shared his views when he was still part of the Cabinet.
"Marami siyang kinikimkim na mga sikreto para magpaganda
sa pagpapatakbo ng bansang ito. Palagay ko may obligasyon siya na nung miyembro siya ng Gabinete na binahagi niya ito," he said.
He said that when Binay joined the Cabinet in 2010, he asked for an appointment to serve as presidential adviser to help overseas Filipino workers after he had already been appointed chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).
"Binigyan ko sa kanya lahat ng pagkakataon na hindi siya maging spare tire. Yung pinagkasunduan namin yugn assignment niya na housing, hinirit niyang idagdag yung OFW at lahat nito pinagkaloob natin," Aquino said.
He also said Binay was always granted an audience when he asked for it.
He said he was surprised that Binay resigned from the Cabinet earlier this week. He said he called up the vice-president to ask why he resigned but the vice-president failed to give a reason.
"Tinanong ko siya specifically ano ba ang dahilan...what was the casus belli, what was the immediate reason? Ang sagot niya sa akin marami raw. Isusulat na lang niya at ipadadala niya sa akin," the President recalled.
Asked if the 2016 polls have become a distraction, Aquino said it is not his primary function as president to delve into politics ahead of the next presidential election.
"Some may have the luxury to concentrate all their waking hours to push their candidacy. I have the responsibility to make our society and nation better. I cannot be distracted by going into politics," he said.