Malacañang on Wednesday dismissed Vice President Jejomar Binay’s allegation that President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s administration has been using government funds in early campaigning for the 2016 elections.
Speaking to reporters, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the administration has been working for and is “committed to transparency.”
He added that Binay can see if public funds are being used properly by looking at copies of the government’s budget posted on different department’s websites and on the Official Gazette.
“So if you want to see if government funds are being used properly, you can compare the fund usage as vis-à-vis the posted 2015 budget. So it’s not very difficult for him to provide us details if such [funds]are being used for campaigning,” according to Lacierda.
He wondered if the Department of Social Welfare and Development visiting an evacuation center or the beneficiaries of the government’s conditional cash transfer program could be construed as campaigning.
“Who’s campaigning? If DOH [Department of Health] goes and visits a rural health station and sees the concerns of the . . . addresses medical concerns, can that be considered campaigning?” Lacierda said.
“If [Interior] Secretary [Manuel] Roxas [2nd] distributes patrol jeeps as part of his mandate to modernize the PNP [Philippine National Police] as well, is that campaigning?” he added.
Roxas is the president-on-leave and the presumptive standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party in next year’s polls.
Binay, meanwhile, has been distributing wheelchairs to senior citizens.
“Is that campaigning? He always says that [the elderly are a]part of his constituency,” Lacierda said.
But Binay seemed not to mind speculations that he was already engaging in early campaigning.
Binay, the frontrunner in pre-election surveys, the revealed recently that he was still hoping for Aquino’s support in the 2016 elections.
The President, however, was not keen on endorsing Binay, who is accused of corruption in connection with various projects in Makati City (Metro Manila) of which he was a former mayor.
Over the weekend, the Vice President reportedly criticized the Aquino administration’s daang matuwid [straight path]invocation for its perceived politicking against him.
Apparently reacting to Binay’s criticism, Lacierda said the Palace is leaving it to the Vice President to decide on whether he will leave his Cabinet post and part ways with Aquino.
“That is a political question that he must resolve by himself and his camp,” he added.
“Let us give him that window if he decides one way or the other.”