‘Loyalty should be with the people not with friends’
A government official’s loyalty should be with the people, not with his friends.
Sen. Mary Grace Poe on Friday made the statement as she confirmed having signed the draft report of a Senate blue ribbon sub-committee recommending the filing of plunder charges against Vice President Jejomar Binay, his son Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. and their associates.
“As in the PDAF inquiry, I join my colleagues in seeking further investigation by the Ombudsman of the matter and the consequent filing of the appropriate criminal complaint which in this instance appears to be plunder,” Poe said in a statement.
PDAF refers to the Priority Development Assistance Fund, which is infamously known as the congressional pork barrel, whose alleged anomalous disbursement has led to the filing of plunder complaints and consequent incarceration of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd , chairman of the blue ribbon sub-committee, on Thursday said the draft report on the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building 2 has been signed by the three other members of the sub-panel and was transmitted to the mother committee.
Pimentel said he and Poe were among the four who signed the report. The two others were Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th, who initiated the congressional probe.
He added that the report needs to be signed by at least nine of the 17 blue ribbon committee members before it becomes official and presented in plenary.
Poe, who is closing in on the elder Binay in pre-election presidential surveys, is a member of the blue ribbon committee.
She said that after reading the sub-committee recommendation, she “found the same supported by documentary evidence as well as expert and personal testimonies that remain unrebutted by competent evidence to the contrary.”
“I did not think twice in signing the report. In the over 20 hearings conducted by the sub-committee, it became clear that they have a big accountability to answer,” Poe noted in Filipino.
In a radio interview, she said while she acknowledges the Vice President’s ties to her late father, Fernando Poe Jr., Binay has to face the allegations against him.
Binay was the late Poe’s general campaign manager when he ran for President in 2004.
According to a biography of former senator Edgardo Angara, it was Binay who helped Poe become at ease with the ins and outs of politics.
“Issue ito sa ating bansa sapagkat kinakailangan nating magbigay ng halimbawa sa ating mga kababayan mayaman ka man o mahirap. Ikaw man ay nasa pwesto o wala ay pantay pantay sa mata ng batas [This is a national issue and we have to serve as good role models to our compatriots whether rich or poor. Whether one is incumbent or out of power, all are equal in the face of the law],” she said in a radio interview.
“Yan po ang aking sinisikap na ipakita sa lahat na kaibigan man o kapamilya, masakit man sa puso mo, andyan ang respeto subalit ang iyong pangunahing layunin ay ang iyong loyalty sa mga taong naghalal sayo [This is what I was striving to show everybody that whether the one involved is a friend or kin, with a heavy heart, you have to make a stand.
Respect will always be there but your primary objective is your loyalty to the people who voted you into office],” Poe added.
The senator said she still values the friendship extended by Binay and she won’t be surprised if he considers their ties already cut with her decision to sign the draft report.
“Sometimes, you really have to make hard choices,” she added in Filipino.
Binay expressed sadness over Poe’s decision to sign the report, his spokesman Rico Quicho said.
“Vice President Binay was saddened with the development as it seems that Sen. Grace Poe took the side of her fellow senators who cheated her and her family and who bullied innocent people,” his statement originally written in Filipino said.
“Sen. Poe should’ve taken time to read the affidavit that the Vice President submitted but was set aside by the sub-committee. The document clarified the issues raised and explained why the allegations against Binay have no basis,” he added.
Quicho reiterated that accusations against government officials must be based on credible evidence, not from “perjured and polluted sources.”
“Plunder is a serious charge which must be fully established based on facts and prevailing jurisprudence before requiring an impeachable official like the Vice President to explain his innocence,” he said.
“Otherwise, this one-sided inquisition does nothing but promote trial by publicity that directly undermines the Constitutional rights to due process and brushed aside the presumption of innocence. It highlights the senators’ lack of respect for the rule of law,” Quicho added.
Despite this, he said, the Vice President remained focused on the task at hand, adding the “biased” report of the sub-committee only makes him more determined to fight for pro-poor policies especially in the areas of universal healthcare, quality education and better job opportunities for all.
“The focus of the upcoming elections should shift from personalities and mudslinging to executive experience and one’s readiness for the job,” Binay’s spokesman added.