• Palace: Binay was no punching bag

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    Malacañang on Tuesday dismissed claims that Vice President Jejomar Binay resigned from the Cabinet after he got fed up for being made into a “punching bag” by President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s allies.

    Its deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said the Aquino administration never resorts to personal attacks.

    “We do not share the assessment of the allies of the Vice President that he was made a punching bag by the administration,” Valte said in a text message to reporters.

    She was reacting to Makati City Rep. Mar-len Abigail Binay’s statement that her father quit his Cabinet posts because he grew tired of becoming the administration’s “punching bag.”

    Valte said while Malacañang cannot comment on the “motivation behind [Binay’s] resignation,” its officials “have always endeavored to keep public discourse on programs and policies and not centered on personalities in general.”

    Binay was appointed presidential adviser on overseas Filipino worker (OFW) affairs and chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).

    After receiving Binay’s letter, which was delivered by Abigail to the Office of the Executive Secretary on Monday, the President called the Vice President to confirm his resignation, according to Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

    Both Coloma and Valte, however, did not disclose details of Aquino’s phone conversation with Binay.

    Coloma said Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. will formalize the acceptance of Binay’s resignation from the Cabinet.

    Meanwhile, Malacanang assured that the government’s housing services will not be disrupted even if Binay has vacated his Cabinet post.

    Coloma said while there is still no information on Binay’s replacement in the Cabinet, the offices under the HUDCC will continue to function such as the National Housing Authority and Pag-IBIG Fund.

    Valte also gave assurances that the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment will continue to address the needs of Filipino migrants.

    “Our other agencies will be on hand to continue to address the concerns of our OFWs in the interim,” she said.

    Abi still with majority
    Makati Rep. Abigail Binay announced she would not sever her ties with the administration bloc led by the ruling Liberal Party unless Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. personally asks her to do so.

    “Kung hihingin ni Speaker, aalis ako. Kung hindi, bakit ako aalis [If the Speaker asks me to leave, then I’ll leave. Otherwise, why would I leave]?” Binay’s daughter said.

    The elder Binay’s resignation threatened to break up the LP-led majority coalition, which is composed of the Nacionalista Party (NP), the LP, the Binay-led United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) the National Unity Party and the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

    Abigail belongs to UNA, which is also counted with the minority bloc.
    “Even if you are not an ally of the administration, you can still be a part of the majority. [For example], we don’t have a standing coalition with LP. [But] we joined the majority coalition with the Speaker,” Rep. Binay stressed, referring to Speaker Belmonte, LP’s vice chairman.

    Taguig City (Metro Manila) Rep. Lino Cayetano belongs to the minority bloc in the House even if the NP has a tactical alliance with the LP-led majority coalition in the House, Binay cited an example.

    “Hindi ibig sabihin na kung nasa majority ka, pro-administration ka. May mga batas na pabor ang administrasyon na hindi suportado ng ibang miyembro ng majority [Being in the majority bloc does not necessarily mean that you support the administration. For one, there are bills that the Palace is in favor of but do not have the support of the majority members)]. So it’s not a natural consequence that UNA members will leave the majority coalition just because the Vice President resigned from the Cabinet,” she explained.

    Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone noted that Vice President Binay should have been more courteous by submitting his resignation letter personally.

    “He used to be a part of the official family. What would he lose if he went to Malacañang to tell the President that he was resigning? Even a phone call from him thanking the President for letting him serve the government would have been fine, ” Evardone said.

    Supportive Erap
    Deposed president and now Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada also on Tuesday said he supports Binay’s decision to resign from the Cabinet.

    “I think [he resigned]because of the continuous attacks [on]his person and family,” Estrada told reporters.

    He, however, refused to elaborate, saying “it is a personal decision of the Vice President.”

    With JAIME R. PILAPIL

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