THE debate is off.
Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday backed out of a debate with Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th that the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas has set for November 27.
Binay had dared Trillanes to engage in a debate with him over allegations that the VP benefited from the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 project when he was the mayor of Makati City (Metro Manila).
Celebrating his 72nd birthday at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City (Metro Manila), Binay said he has decided not go ahead with it.
He said the senator had again prejudged the outcome of the debate when he said that Binay, being a lawyer, had an advantage.
“Huwag na natin ituloy. Ayoko na kung ganyan sinasabi niya [Trillanes] . . . Pangit naman yata na ‘di pa nag-uumpisa, meron na agad paliwanag [Let’s not hold the debate anymore. I don’t like what the senator is saying… It’s not neat when the debate has not even started, he already had an explanation on why he would lose],” Binay added.
He said his decision is final.
“Ang dahilan ko mga kababayan e dahil sa marami na akong naririnig na ako ay ganito . . . ako ay mahusay, ako ay naging debater, ako ay abogado, e sobra na ‘tong mga sinabi niyang ganyan na kumpirmadong sinabi niya, e ayaw ko naman hong ang pagkakakilala niyo sa aking mga kababayan ay mapang-api, mapagsamantala…so tama na po ‘yun [My reason my countrymen is I am hearing a lot of things that I am like this… I am good, I had been a debater, I am a lawyer, those are an earful, I don’t want you to see me as an oppressor, opportunistic… so I have had it],” the Vice President added.
Binay said he decided to cancel the debate because he did not want to be accused of taking advantage of Trillanes’ weaknesses.
“[A] ko hanggang ngayong umagang ‘to, maniwala ka sana, handa ako doon [sa debate]. Ako nga nagmungkahi noon eh. Bakit naman . . . lalo ngang pangit naman na aatras ako eh ako ang nagmungkahi. Eh ngayon, hindi na yata tama ‘yong naririnig ko [Until this morning I was ready for the debate. I was the one who challenged the senator to a debate and it would not be neat if I turned my back on it. But now, I do not like what I am hearing],” the Vice President added in an interview after a feeding program for the pupils of Philippine Navy Wives Association Child Learning Center at Fort Bonifacio.
“Dahil eto [na nga siya na mismo]ang tumatanggap na siya ay kawawa, o bakit mo naman kakawawain pa [Here, the senator said he is the one being made to look pitiful, so why should I make him look more pitiful]?” he said.
According to Binay, he would have dwelt on facts to belie allegations of wrongdoing against him had the debate pushed through.
Trillanes is a member of the Senate blue ribbon sub-subcommittee that is investigating the allegations that Binay benefited from the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 project when he was the mayor of Makati City (Metro Manila).
The Vice President had been invited to attend Senate hearings on the charges but he refused, saying he had already been prejudged by the sub-committee.
Binay’s camp also on Tuesday said the Vice President backed out of the debate because he believes that pursuing it would be a disservice to the millions who still have to recover from devastation caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda.
“Now is not the time for talk but for action. The Vice President is prioritizing the country over self, recovery over bickering, the people over himself. He will be in the Visayas next week putting all his efforts into the task of housing given to him by the President,” Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla said.
“The truth of the allegations [made against the Vice President]is now in the hands of the Ombudsman,” Remulla, the Vice President’s spokesman on political affairs, said.
Binay, the chairman of the Housing and Urban Development
Coordinating Council, was recently designated by President Benigno Aquino 3rd to head the government’s Yolanda Resettlement Cluster.
Meanwhile, Joey Salgado, head of Media Affairs of the Office of the Vice President, said there was nothing to gain from a debate “with someone who does not respect reason, facts or the rule of law and tends to exaggerate his role in history.”
Salgado was referring to Trillanes’ statement linking Binay to the siege of The Peninsula Manila in 2007.
“Senator Trillanes is now attempting to rewrite history with a revisionist version of his Manila Peninsula siege, which ended in a fiasco,” he said.
“History teaches us that revolutionary undertakings succeed with the support of the people, not because of one man with a messianic complex. The senator should stop blaming the Vice President for his failure as a mutineer,” Salgado added.
Meanwhile, Sen. Nancy Binay dared accusers of her father to bring their allegations to court.
“If they have allegations against us, why don’t they file a case?” the Vice President’s eldest daughter said.
She added that she never approved of her father’s decision to debate with Trillanes who had accused their family of amassing ill-gotten wealth.
“Why would he stoop down to the level of Senator Trillanes?” the lawmaker asked.
WITH MA. LILLIANE ERICKA B. ANICAS