Binay faces tough, quizzical students in UPLB forum
LOS BAÑOS, Laguna—Vice President Jejomar Binay faced on Tuesday one of the toughest audiences in his campaign for the 2016 presidency—the students of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, who peppered him with questions on corruption and the source of his campaign funds.
Binay, the first among the presidential aspirants to declare his intention to run for president in 2016, had awkward, uncomfortable moments during the open forum organized by the UPLB social science department but he doggedly stuck to his standard response to allegations about his wealth: that most of the corruption allegations were just that—allegations and lies.
“Puro bintang, puro kasinungalingan,” the vice president said, when asked about the revelations made by his erstwhile ally, former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado, during the Senate subcommittee hearings. Mercado accused him of amassing billions of pesos in ill-gotten wealth by rigging contracts at the Makati City Hall, overpricing and getting kickbacks. Binay had flatly denied these claims.
He also told the UPLB students that he would never face the Senate blue ribbon subcommitee hearings because the body had prejudged his guilt. He said he would rather see them in court, where he feels he could get fairness. “Hindi talaga ako sisipot. Ang hamon ko sa kanila magkita-kita kami sa hukuman,” Binay said.
He took the opportunity to mock the Senate hearings as dragged-out teleserye that would even outlast the current “Kalye-serye” AlDub craze. “Yung serye ng AlDub matatapos na, yung serye ng Senado aabutin pa yata ng tatlong taon,” he joked.
Binay attacked the Aquino administration’s “daang matuwid” (straight path) slogan, claiming its anti-corruption stance has unduly slowed down development projects as the government became too careful about releasing funds to the local governments. The result of the daang matuwid campaign has been to stall the decentralization of government services, as envisioned by the Local Government Code, said Binay.
He also complained about the Inquirer’s treatment of him, pointing out that corruption allegations against him and his family got the banner treatment 44 times.
When asked by a student what he has done to prevent corruption in government, Binay said none of the government agencies he has headed—like the housing agencies—has been involved in corruption.
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