SEN. Antonio Trillanes 4th on Tuesday said Vice President Jejomar Binay is afraid of the truth, thus Binay decided to back out of their scheduled debate.
He noted that Binay’s action showed the Vice President’s lack of character.
The senator said Binay’s failure to deliver on his word proves that he cannot be trusted.
“It is very important for an elected government official to always keep his word no matter what and it is clear that the Vice President can’t do it,” he told a news conference.
“It shows lack of character and untrustworthiness of the Vice President and lack of any intention to face the people.”
Trillanes said the Vice President’s reason for canceling the debate was lame. He added that should the Vice President change his mind, he would still be up and ready for a debate.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Binay put himself in a dangerous situation by backing out.
“I don’t know what advantage he got from backing out,” Belmonte, a lawyer like Binay, said in a text message.
Caloocan City (Metro Manila) Rep. Edgar Erice, as well as Magdalo party-list Rep. Ashley Acedillo and Rep. Gary Alejano, agreed with Belmonte.
“This [backing out]shows his character: Someone who says something that he doesn’t mean. How can the Filipino people believe his promises of redemption from poverty, when his brand of corruption is the root cause of poverty?” Erice, a staunch Binay critic, said.
He, however, noted that Binay’s aboutface is not surprising because the Vice President also retreated from his promise to appear before the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee that is investigating allegations of graft against the Binay family.
“The Vice President’s refusal to engage in a debate raises questions on his trustworthiness and decisiveness as a leader. ‘Yan ba ang gusto natin sa naghahangad maging Pangulo natin? [‘Yung] hindi natin mapanghawakan at mapagkakatiwalaan ang binitawang salita [Do we want such kind to be our President? Someone who cannot hold on to his word]?” Acedillo, who had joined Trillanes in failed coups, said in a text message.
“We can’t trust him. He cannot comply with his word even if he was the one who asked for it [debate]. He is not decisive. Do we want this kind of President? That would really be a problem,” Alejano said.
An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Binay should drop his presidential ambition if he refuses to face the public.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive chairman of the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace, urged Binay to explain himself to the public.
“Kung ngayon pa lang hindi na niya kayang magsalita at maging accountable sa mga tao, paano pa kung maging Presidente na siya?
Gusto niya maging Presidente, ipakita niya sa mga tao dapat na kaya niyang panindigan ang totoo [If at present he cannot make himself accountable to the people, what more if he becomes President later]?” Gariguez asked.
But Malacañang said it sees nothing wrong with Binay’s decision to cancel the debate.
Palace deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Vice President can avail of other opportunities or venues where he could air “his side of the story.”
“We respect the Vice President’s decision not to push through with the debate with Senator Trillanes,” Valte told reporters in a news conference also on Tuesday.
“We’re pretty certain that the Vice President weighed all of his options when he made the decision to not push with the scheduled debate.
Perhaps there will be other opportunities for him to air his side,” she said.
WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND ROBERTZON F. RAMIREZ