Santiago sees VP’s ratings sinking deeper when graft raps sink in
Vice President Jejomar Binay should expect his ratings to drop lower when news about his alleged corruption reaches the masses, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Friday.
A Senate blue ribbon committee is investigating charges of corruption against Binay, including overpricing in the construction of the P2.28-billion Makati City Hall Building II and pocketing millions of pesos in kickbacks from municipal infrastructure projects when he was mayor of the city.
He is also accused of secretly acquiring real estate property in Makati and a 350-hectare agricultural farm in Rosario town, Batangas province. He allegedly uses dummies to conceal his ownership of these properties.
Binay has denied the allegations, but refuses to face the Senate subcommittee to answer the charges.
In a November Pulse Asia survey, he saw his ratings tumble to 26 percent from 31 in September, in a possible backlash from the charges of corruption and ill-gotten wealth.
Most distrusted official
The survey also showed that he is now the most distrusted among the country’s top five officials.
“Sooner or later, all of these matters will filter down to the bottom. That is to say information will go around,” Santiago told reporters at the Intercontinental Manila Hotel.
“His ratings will further fall because there is no good news in the future for him with respect to the Senate,” she added.
Santiago said she expected the blue ribbon subcommittee to recommend the prosecution of the Vice President.
“The Senate cannot render any verdict except whether or not to refer a certain criminal aspect of the case to the Ombudsman or to the secretary of justice, as the case maybe,” she said.
“So all it does is issue a resolution to refer, but you cannot expect total exoneration at the brittleness and bitterness in which these proceedings have been carried out,” she added.
Prosecution for corruption could derail Binay’s presidential ambition.
Already, Sen. Grace Poe is catching up with him in voter-preference polls, moving to second place in the latest Pulse Asia survey of potential candidates in the 2016 presidential election.
“She is also strong almost in the same category as Binay in the D category, so that means that she’s still coasting on the reputation of her father and his aborted presidential candidacy,” Santiago said, referring to the late movie actor Fernando Poe Jr. who died in December 2004 while protesting his loss to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the allegedly fraud-marred presidential election in May that year.
“We will see whether the electorate will become more demanding of Grace and begin to judge her on factors other than her lineage,” Santiago added.
Santiago, who ranked third, behind Poe, in the same Pulse Asia survey, shrugged off her strong showing, saying it was a matter of name recall.
“I’ve just been around forever so when people need to think of a name they immediately think of me,” she said.
“These results, they are very ephemeral. They don’t signify anything except that these are the names that come to mind when a person is asked about the presidency. When the situation heats up, then you can begin to see dramatic changes in the lineups,’’ she added.
But is she running for President?
“My doctors will decide that question,” said Santiago, who is fighting lung cancer on top of a chronic fatigue syndrome. Recently, she said her cancer cells had regressed.
Senate President Franklin Drilon, a stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party, claimed that with the slim margin the potential candidates have over one another in the survey, the race for the presidency is now open to everyone.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the administration’s presumptive standard-bearer in 2016, ranked sixth in the survey.
“This is an open race. Anybody can now aspire for the presidency,” Drilon said in an interview on dzRH radio. “No one can be sure at this point. Nobody has a clear lead because the margins are not that big, especially since the margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent. So if you have a lead of 3 or 5 percent, you’re in a statistical tie.”
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