UNA official elated over VP's decision to back out of debate
MANILA - United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president Toby Tiangco was elated upon learning that Vice President Jejomar Binay has backed out of a debate with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
Speaking to ANC, Tiangco said he was surprised to hear that Binay changed his mind about engaging Trillanes in a debate.
He said he talked to Binay on Monday and the Vice President was keen on pushing through with the debate.
He said a meeting with the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) was also scheduled today.
Tiangco is happy with the Vice President's decision, noting that he has always been vocal about his opposition to the debate.
"Magkausap pa kami kagabi ng mga 9:30 [pm], wala naman siyang sinasabi na magba-back out siya dun sa debate. But of course, I will not hide my happiness... Alam niyo naman na very vocal ako against the debate," he said.
"Ako natutuwa kung hindi matutuloy because I already explained that people didn't vote for the vice president to defend himself. Ang gusto nila makita yung bise presidente na nagtatrabaho," he added.
Binay on Tuesday said he decided to back out of the debate, which had been set on November 27, because he did not want to be seen as a bully.
"Ang dahilan ko, mga kababayan, ay dahil marami na akong naririnig. Na siya (Trillanes) ay ganito, ako ay mahusay, ako ay debater, ako ay abogado, e sobra na ang mga salitang ganyan, na kumpirmadong sinabi niya. E ayoko naman po yung aking pagkakakila niyo sa akin, mga kababayan, ay mapang-api, mapagsamantala. Na itong isang tao ito ay alam mo naman kawawa, tanga o whatever, so pinagsamantalahan ko so tama na yun," said Binay, who is celebrating his 72nd birthday today.
In the ANC interview, Tiangco stressed that although he has always been vocal against the debate, he was not the one behind Binay's decision to not push through with it.
He said he was also not the one behind Binay's decision to not attend the Senate Blue Ribbon committee's hearing on corruption allegations against him last week.
The UNA official said he will still have to ask the Vice President "kung sino yung angel o anghel na nakapagbigay ng advice sa kanyang birthday na talagang hindi na dapat matuloy yung debate."
One of Binay's daughters, Senator Nancy Binay, is likewise happy with her father's decision.
"This is an answered prayer and a welcome relief for the family, although we expect that our detractors will continue to gloat on the situation," the senator said in a statement.
"From here, we shall move forward and the Vice President will continue to serve the Filipino people in the responsibilities entrusted to him, unencumbered by partisan attacks," she said.
Trillanes, for his part, called Binay's reason for backing out of the debate as "the lamest excuse."
"That's the lamest excuse you can get from anyone. For someone like him na gustong-gustong bumawi, that was the best opportunity to put me in my place," Trillanes said.
"It is his loss. He is going to be crucified for this and he practically destroyed any credibility he has left," the senator added.
KBP president Herman Basbaño, meanwhile, said he sees the cancelled debate as a missed opportunity.
Basbaño noted that the KBP had already spent funds to prepare for the debate including visits to the potential debate site. "Sayang lang," he said.