But VP says he’s not quitting Cabinet
Apparently stung by criticisms hurled by the country’s second highest official, President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday said Vice President Jejomar Binay is free to leave the Cabinet if he is unhappy with the administration’s policies.
Binay, however, was quick to say he is not quitting and will continue to be part of the President’s team.
When asked by reporters if he feels that “it’s time for the Vice President to leave [his]Cabinet,” Aquino cited reports that Binay has been critical of his administration.
“Kung saka-sakaling sinabi ni Vice President iyon, siguro dalawa lang ang dapat nating maalala: Number one, kung palagay niya meron kaming kulang na ginagawa, miyembro siya ng Gabinete, e di abisuhan niyo kami, kung hindi man mag-advise paano natin i-improve ‘yung sistema? [If the Vice President did say those things, then there are two things we need to remember: Number one, if he thinks we aren’t doing enough, he is a member of the Cabinet, then he should advice us, how can we improve the system?],” the President said.
“Hindi choice iyon, obligasyon niya, miyembro siya ng Gabinete. Kung palagay naman niyang mali ang direksyon namin, e di siyempre malaya rin siyang hindi na sumama sa aming mga kilusan [That’s not a choice, that’s his obligation, he is a member of the Cabinet. And if he thinks our direction is wrong, then he is also free to no longer join our movement],” he added.
Aquino noted that during Cabinet meetings, he has not heard Binay offer solutions to the problems he cited.
“At the minimum, he is the Vice President of the land. He has criticism . . . to be constructive he has to have solutions and if he has some, I have not heard these solutions in these Cabinet meetings. So if he has solutions, he should have shared them. The question is: Why has he not shared them?” he asked.
“Let me just reiterate: If you think the government is doing something wrong, you’re a member of the government, you are the second highest official in the land, you have an obligation to share your knowledge on sustainable solutions if you feel you have any,” he added.
When also asked if he still had trust and confidence in the Vice President, Aquino said that Binay’s “questionable wealth” was acquired before he was elected to his position at present.
“This happened before his role in the Cabinet. If we are referring to his assignment in the housing sector, I think a lot of people would agree the housing sector has a lot of achievements under his watch,” he noted.
The President reiterated that Binay, who is being investigated by the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee for the allegedly overpriced construction of the Makati City Hall Building 2, “has the right to presumption of innocence until proven guilty.”
Binay, however, indicated on Monday that he will not leave the Cabinet.
“I have the highest respect for President Aquino and I will continue to be a team player,” he said.
While Binay’s camp is mum on Mr. Aquino’s statement, a member of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) slammed the President.
“It’s funny when officials of the government who are allies of the administration are under fire and the people are calling for their resignation, the President would immediately come to their defense and declare he still trust them and [they]enjoy his confidence. But when it comes to their perceived political enemies, the President was quick to say, you are free to go,” said an UNA official who requested anonymity because she was not authorized to speak on the matter.
Last month, Binay, head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and presidential adviser for Overseas Foreign Workers (OFW) Affairs, criticized the administration for its failure to address problems on mass transportation, impending power crisis and deterioration of peace and order.
Also on Monday, Buhay Hayaang Yumabong party-list Rep. Joselito “Lito” Atienza said Binay will not turn against the President.
The lawmaker added that Aquino should not take Binay’s criticisms personally.
“The Vice President’s loyalty to the President and President’s mother cannot be questioned. He fought for his mother. I was there. We fought for his mother so he should not take our criticisms personally,” Atienza said, referring to late former President Corazon Aquino
Binay has a Cabinet rank being the housing czar and the Presidential Adviser on the Overseas Filipino Workers.
The Vice President is the leader of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
“If the President cannot accept criticisms, especially from one who considers him a good friend and loyal to him, then that’s a tragedy. He should be aware of his new friends because they are fair-weathered. They are as many in previous governments,” Atienza, who served as the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources during the Arroyo administration, said.
“All this time, the Vice President has been very supportive of President Aquino. If the President thinks that’s not enough, maybe he [Binay] should think of dissociating himself,” he added.