MANILA – Vice President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday sided with several Supreme Court magistrates who said Sen. Grace Poe should be disqualified both as a senator and a presidential candidate because she is not a natural-born Filipino.
In an exclusive interview on radio DZMM's presidential forum ''Ikaw Na Ba? Para Sa Pamilyang Pilipino," Binay backed his earlier statement describing Poe as an "American girl," saying the senator lived in the US as an American citizen for several years.
Binay said the issue of Poe's citizenship is a question of law.
"Walang room dito for emotions. Walang iyakan pang-telebisyon. Yung sa residence is a question of fact," he said.
Members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal earlier ruled 5-4 to dismiss a quo warranto case questioning Poe's natural-born status, which is a requirement for candidates seeking the posts of congressman, senator, vice president, and president.
Losing senatorial candidate Rizalito David argued that Poe, a foundling, is a naturalized Filipino and not natural-born and should not hold high public office. He also said Poe lacked the residency requirement for senatorial candidates.
Three SC justices and Binay's daughter, Sen. Nancy Binay, voted to disqualify Poe but were outvoted by five other senators in the SET.
In the interview, Binay said he had nothing to do with the disqualification case filed against Poe. He said the decisions of the SC justices were correct based on the Constitution.
"Merong batas eh. Kailangan masunod ang batas eh, natural born. Pero ha, hindi siya inaalisan ng pagka-Pilipino. Hindi naman. Kinikilala siya na siya ay Pilipino. Hindi nga lamang siya natural born. That makes her disqualified to run for president," he said.
He added Poe also cannot hold the position as a member of Congress.
"It is a constitutional provision. Kaya lang ito naungkat e dahil siya ang ina-apply-an niya ay requirement yun. Hindi naman issue sa foundling yun. Hindi naman pwedeng hanapan ka ng natural born para ikaw ay maging doktor," he said.
"Kung gusto mong mabago yung position ng mga justices, mag legislate tayo. Amyendahan natin ang Constitution. But so long and until there is that provision in the Constitution, sundin natin."
Binay was also asked why he had reached out to Poe to become his running-mate in the 2016 polls if he believes that the senator is not a natural-born Filipino.
He said that while his camp did reach out to Poe, he did not make the appeal personally. Poe rejected Binay's offer before announcing her own presidential bid.
"Hindi ko matandaan eh. Napaabot lang siguro pero yung personal na sinabi ko sa kanya na: 'Madam Senator, magkandidato ka sa akin vice president', hindi ko natatandaan yun. Pero yung pagpapaabot, kasi may search committee naman kami, yun ang pagpapaabot," he added.
Poe is currently leading in several pre-election surveys for presidential bets. In case Poe is disqualified, Binay said Poe's votes would likely be distributed to the other candidates.
PNOY BEHIND 'DEMOLITION JOB'?
Meanwhile, Binay said it is hard to prove whether President Benigno Aquino III had a hand in the supposed demolition job against him.
Binay again stressed his belief that the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman to indict him and his son, former Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, over the allegedly anomalous Makati City Hall Building II project was politically motivated.
''Iyung ginawa sa akin ng Ombudsman eh kasama yun doon sa demolition by perception,'' Binay said.
The vice president, however, could not say whether President Aquino, who appointed Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, influenced the latter.
''Ako ang sinasabi ko napulitika dahil doon sa resulta, pero yung specific o yung meron akong ebidensya na nagpapagamit kay pangulo eh mahirap iyan,'' he said.
Binay, who once led pre-election surveys by Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia, saw his popularity figures drop in the past months due to the numerous allegations of corrupt acts when he was still mayor of Makati.
Binay and his son have been at the center of a political storm since the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee, led by Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV, launched an investigation into the allegedly overpriced city hall building project more than a year ago.
The younger Binay has been dismissed by the Ombudsman in connection with the project for "grave misconduct and dishonesty."
But the vice president believes the worst is over and he is on his way to regaining his popularity among voters.
''Kung ang pag-uusapan eh survey, nakaahon na dahil sa yung bumaba ako, pataas na,'' he said.
"Allegations lang lahat yan… Para mapagtakluban ang aking magagandang nagawa, bintang ng bintang. Iyang bagay na iyan bagamat iniinda, mas iniinda mo ang patuloy na paghihirap ng ating mga kababayan."
In the interview, Binay also maintained that he does not own the so-called Hacienda Binay in Batangas, saying his family owns a 5-hectare of land for a piggery.
WATCH: What Trillanes found at 'Hacienda Binay'
''Ang masama doon sinabi kaagad hacienda. Ako may negosyo doon na babuyan. Pero yung hacienda, ni minsan hindi naman ako naging haciendero, laki pa nga ako sa hirap,'' he said.
Binay also said he will make good on his promise to become a ''unifying president'' should he win in the 2016 elections.
He said he will not use his position to harass political opponents, but noted he cannot stop anyone from filing charges.
''Ako sa akin kalimutan [na]. Pero rerespetuhin ko yan. Meron tayong kanya-kanyang trabaho sa pamahalaan. Kung may maghabla sa kanila, eh 'di tignan natin. Hindi ako makikialam,'' he said.