MANILA (Mabuhay) – Vice President Jejomar Binay’s ability to stay true to his word is now shrouded in doubt following his decision to back out of the debate with Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, allies of the administration in Congress said Tuesday.
Liberal Party stalwart and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said he had expected Binay to withdraw from the debate because it will expose him to queries regarding the corruption controversies hounding him.
In particular, Erice said the Vice President will be unable to fend off questions based on the “testimonial, circumstantial and documentary evidence” presented by his former ally, former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, in the Senate blue ribbon committee investigation into the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.
“[The Vice President’s] decision to back out shows his true color and character as a master trapo (traditional politician) who says things he didn’t really mean. People should never believe his promises as they are empty and insincere,” he said in a text message.
On Tuesday, Binay announced he is backing out of the debate with Trillanes because of the senator’s statement that the Vice President has an advantage over him because of the former’s legal background.
“Huwag na natin ituloy. Ayoko na kung ganyan sinasabi niya (Trillanes)… Pangit naman yata na ‘di pa nag-uumpisa, meron na agad paliwanag,” Binay told reporters as he marked his 72nd birthday at the Philippine Marines headquarters.
Binay had challenged Trillanes to a debate to answer allegations of corruption that had been brought out against him in the course of the Senate panel probe on the alleged overpricing of the construction cost of the Makati City Hall Building II.
Aside from purportedly benefiting from the construction project, the Vice President has also been accused of owning sprawling properties in Cavite and Batangas, and keeping foreign currency accounts in overseas banks.
Binay has said the allegations were part of a demolition job against him since he has been vocal about running in the 2016 presidential elections.
Former military official and incumbent Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo said Binay’s withdrawal from the debate could make people second-guess the sincerity of his words.
“[It] calls into question both his trustworthiness and decisiveness as a leader. Is this the kind of qualities we would want from someone who wants to become our next President?” he asked.
Acedillo said Binay’s withdrawal from the debate and his earlier decision not to appear at the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing last week shows he has no intention of explaining himself to the people. “This also shows he is hiding a lot of things from the public,” he said.
For his part, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said the debate would have been a timely opportunity for Binay to explain his side amid the allegations of corruption he is facing. “Sayang. But we respect his decision,” he said. (MNS)