Roxas laughs off Binay charge on Oplan Nognog
MANILA, Philippines–Just face the music.
This was the message of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to his political nemesis, Vice President Jejomar Binay, after the latter named him the brains of the “Oplan Stop Nognog 2016,” a supposed smear campaign meant to derail Binay’s chances in the 2016 presidential election.
Roxas, who lost to Binay in the 2010 elections, is the presumptive standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party in the next national elections.
“Panis (stale),” Roxas told reporters with a laugh after presiding over a meeting of senior police officials and members of private radio communications groups in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Breaking his silence on the issue, he said the allegations implicating him in the purported plot against Binay was “farthest from the truth.”
“I would like to make it clear that I have no knowledge of this supposed plan or what the Vice President is claiming. You should use your common sense. Do you think anybody can dictate on the senators?” he said in Filipino.
“The senators have their own principles. They have their own track records and credibility. In their quest to ferret out the truth behind this controversy, it’s not right to claim that somebody is dictating on them.”
More attacks from Binay
A day after he said that Roxas was part of the plot to stop his presidential bid in 2016, Binay said the nation continued to reel from transport and traffic problems, of having the worst airport in the world and the rising criminality.
Roxas used to head the Department of Transportation and Communications and is now the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, which is on top of ensuring peace and order in the country.
“The irony is that the Senate zarzuela is staged by no less than those who have failed in their primary duty to ease these hardships that our people are suffering. And what for, to push themselves to power in the coming 2016 presidential election, at our expense,” Binay said at the opening of the 40th Philippine Business Conference and Expo at the Manila Hotel.
As the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee resumed its inquiry into allegations of corruption against Binay, the Vice President chose to speak before businessmen, describing the inquiry as “carnival” and “circus.”
Flavor of the month
Saying he was the “flavor of the month for several months now,” Binay thanked the businessmen for “remaining sober amid the political hullabaloo that the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearing has spun around me and my family in the past months.”
Boasting about how he had turned Makati City into a premium city during his watch as its mayor, Binay said that some senators and allies of the Liberal Party wanted to stop the governance that he would give if he becomes the President in 2016.
“With lies and fabrications, they want to destroy this development paradigm, that I wish to share with the whole country—that an enlightened government, in partnership with all its stakeholders, can ensure that the benefits of a booming economy can be shared quickly and efficiently with society’s marginalized groups with superior propoor services,” he said.
The Vice President also said the Aquino administration was able to do some “right” things like “squeaky clean governance at the top, dogged strategies for revenue generation, government spending,” among others but four years into its term, “several sectors have fallen embarrassingly short on performance.”
He complained of the traffic problem in Metro Manila and other urban centers which he said was worsened by the “antiquated transport system” that could have been improved had it not been for “poor planning and bureaucratic inefficiencies.”
“The brakes of MRT trains fail, doors fall off and signaling systems stall. And our premier international airport continues to be ranked worst in the world,” Binay said.
He also complained of the “rising criminality” brought about by “rogue policemen,” among other things.
Still, he urged everyone, including his political opponents, “to set aside our political differences and address these issues once and for all.”
Roxas also distanced himself from the supposed owner of the helicopter that former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado supposedly used in the aerial surveillance of a vast agricultural estate in Rosario, Batangas, which Binay supposedly owned.
Binay’s camp earlier claimed that the chopper was owned by businessman Buddy Zamora, a known political supporter of the interior secretary.
Roxas said he was not aware of the helicopter’s owner as he vehemently denied that a member of his staff was also among those who took the video footage of the agricultural estate.
“Besides, what’s the real issue here? Is it the ownership of the chopper or the ownership of the estate? It’s that simple,” he said.
“I don’t think the people will believe that I’m the one conducting this alleged conspiracy,” the interior secretary said.
He then gave unsolicited advice to Binay, saying it would be better for the Vice President to just answer the allegations of corruption against him and his family.
“We have a saying that while we are pointing an accusing finger to somebody, three fingers are pointing to us,” he said.
“I don’t think accusing me of being behind this supposed plot would do the Vice President any good. The individuals who are accusing him are insiders in Makati (City Hall). Instead of accusing me, he should just face the allegations.”