President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday said Vice President Jejomar Binay will remain the “man to beat” in the 2016 elections if he manages to disprove corruption allegations being hurled against him.
In an interview with reporters after inspecting classrooms in Marikina City (Metro Manila), Aquino acknowledged that Binay — the presumptive standard bearer of the opposition — has been leading pre-election surveys.
He, however, said Binay’s chances of winning would depend on his ability to answer the graft accusations against him.
The President’s statement came after the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) in a report claimed to have traced billions of pesos in financial transactions linked to Binay and his alleged dummies.
The report said there were huge withdrawals from the accounts when the Senate blue ribbon committee started investigating the allegedly anomalous construction of Makati City Hall Building 2.
The Binay camp has consistently been denying allegations of irregularity and blames the Liberal Party for orchestrating a drive to smear his reputation.
But Malacañang has rejected allegations that the administration party is behind the freeze order on Binay’s bank accounts.
In defending the Liberal Party (LP), Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said the Court of Appeals and AMLC, which are both involved in the issuance of the freeze order against Binay’s assets, are independent bodies.
“You know, let’s point out also that the AMLC is composed of the Central Bank governor, the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] chair, and also the Insurance Commissioner, and, as such, [they have jobs to do]under the Anti-Money Laundering Act. You know, as the President said, we have nothing to do with the AMLC report and we certainly… have not used it for the ends of the administration other than, of course, the mandate of the AMLC itself,” she added.
“We can’t comment any further owing to the fact that the entire, all these revelations are… Well, at least, the freeze order is an order of the competent court and [we have no control of the]judiciary,” Valte said.