President Benigno Aquino 3rd led the administration’s counter-offensive against Vic
e President Jejomar Binay as a pitch battle between the two political camps continued on Tuesday.
The day after Binay delivered his version of the state of the nation, the President criticized the Vice President for his failure to present a concrete platform of government
“It’s difficult to sell an abstract product,” Aquino told a gathering of members of the Liberal Party (LP) in a posh restaurant in Greenhills, San Juan City (Metro Manila).
Although the President did not mention any name, his statement was loaded with a catch phrase that was identified with Binay.
“May nagsasabi na gaganda ang buhay niyo. Ngayon hinihintay ko kung paano. Paano lalong sasagana ang buhay ng Pilipino [Somebody’s saying that your life will get better. I’m still waiting how this will happen] ,” he said.
Binay used the “gaganda ang buhay” [life will get better]as his campaign slogan in the 2010 elections where he won against Aquino’s running mate, Manuel Roxas 2nd.
Aquino last Friday publicly declared his support for Roxas’ presidential run in 2016.
In Tuesday’s gathering, he shared a table with Roxas and LP members Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.
Santos-Recto, a popular actress before joining politics, and Robredo, widow of the late populist Interior secretary Jesse Robredo, were rumored to be being considered to team up with Roxas should talks with Sen. Grace Poe totally collapse.
Binay, who had long declared his intention to make a go for Malacañang in next year’s elections, delivered his so-called “true State of the Nation Address (Tsona)” where he criticized the Aquino administration for being insensitive and inept in addressing the country’s problems.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. also on Tuesday said the Vice President’s speech promoted hopelessness in contrast to President Aquino’s final SONA, which was full of optimism.
While the Vice President was painting a picture of hopelessness, many people have concretely manifested that they were looking forward to a brighter future ahead, Coloma said in Filipino.
He added that many of the issues and concerns that Binay raised in his speech have long been discussed and addressed by the government.
Based on the monitoring done by the Malacañang press office, Binay’s speech drew mostly negative feedback from the public.
“All feedbacks we monitored were overwhelmingly trending against him,” Coloma said.
“In our monitoring of the different reactions and views by our people, it has been clearly observed that in his past five years as a public official, he carried the banner of being a member of the Cabinet and throughout that time we never heard any strong criticism or adverse opinion on what he calls now as wrongdoings,” he told a news briefing.
The official noted that it is only now that Binay was talking because “his political campaign is fast approaching.”
Coloma agave a point by point rebuttal of Binay’s allegations that were raised in his speech, particularly on economic issues. He maintained that the administration has no record of fund misuse.
“We have enough control measures in place and expenditures are open, transparent and accountable. All disbursements are subject to audit by the Commission on Audit and we have no record of fund misuse because the expenditures of our national government agencies pass scrutiny,” he explained.
Release true SALN
Binay’s arch-critic, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano labeled the Vice President’s speech as a diversionary tactic to distract people from the corruption allegations hounding him and his family.
Instead of delivering the Tsona, he said Binay should release his “true” Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net wWorth (SALN).
“What we heard from the Vice President was mind-boggling while he himself [is]yet to answer the corruption allegations against him and his family. My advice to VP Binay is before he criticizes others, he should first prove that the allegations against him are not true,” Cayetano said in a statement also in Filipino.
Is it martial law?
Joey Salgado, one of Binay’s spokesmen, berated Malacanang spokesman and Secretary Edwin Lacierda for asking Cavite State University (CSU) President Divina Chavez to explain why they hosted the Vice President’s Tsona.
“Mister Secretary, martial law na ba uli [Is it martiallaw again]? The event at Cavite State University (CSU) was organized by the CSU Student Council. The Vice President was invited as guest speaker and it was there that he delivered his True SONA,” Salgado, a former activist and reporter, said.
“But the Palace over-reaction is a preview of how the administration will use its power to harass and intimidate during the election season,” he added.
Lacierda fired back by issuing a stinging reply to Salgado’s tirades, saying a memorandum that was circulated on campus did not say anything about Binay’s speech but of a scheduled “Student Assembly.”
“Oh you mean it was such a huge honor for Cavite State University to invite Vice President Binay that the memo failed to mention him as the Honored Guest Speaker and instead just called it a ‘Student Assembly’?” he asked.
Lacierda went on further to insult Binay’s speech, describing it as palpak [disastrous]too.
But Salgado maintained that it does not do school officials justice by pressuring them into issuing an explanation as to why the state university was used as venue for Binay’s Tsona.