Abigail Binay: Stop word war with Poe
Makati Rep. Abigail Binay, a daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay, on Thursday sued for a truce in the escalating word war between the camps of her father and of Sen. Grace Poe, a fast-emerging presidential candidate in next year’s general elections.
“This will accomplish nothing except to inflame the supposed conflict between my father and Senator Poe,” Representative Binay told a news conference at her Makati residence.
Reading a prepared statement, Binay said she wished to put a stop to the “heated and emotional” back-and-forth between her father’s allies and Poe that was set off by United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president Toby Tiangco’s questioning on Tuesday the senator’s qualifications to run for higher office.
“If Senator Poe so decides to run for President in 2016, my father warmly accepts and respects her decision. It is her right to run for any position,” Binay said in Filipino. “This should not be cause for quarrel or conflict.”
Tiangco dug up Poe’s 2012 certificate of candidacy for senator and, showing it to reporters on Tuesday, said she would not satisfy the 10-year residency rule for presidential and vice presidential candidates if she would run for either office next year.
Hurt by the challenge to her qualifications and the insinuation that she had been dishonest about her residency, Poe fired back on Wednesday, insisting that she was qualified to run, though not saying for what higher office, and that she had been a resident of the Philippines for more than 10 years when she ran for the Senate in 2013.
“Why are they so afraid of me?” said Poe, who topped the 2013 senatorial elections and is now running second to Vice President Binay in presidential polls.
Poe also said she did not believe that Tiangco’s actions had not been approved by Binay, the head of the opposition UNA.
She also questioned the timing of Tiangco’s attack, coming soon after she signed a Senate blue ribbon subcommittee report recommending graft and plunder charges against Vice President Binay over allegations of corruption in Makati during his tenure as the city’s mayor.
Representative Binay noted that the exchange had become personal, as past wounds between the two camps, including the Vice President’s association with Poe’s adoptive father, the late movie actor Ferdinand Poe Jr. (FPJ), had been raised by the parties.
Questions about Poe’s dual citizenship and her background as a foundling, which could complicate her possible candidacy, had also been raised.
The Constitution states that only natural-born Filipinos may rise to the presidency.
Heated and emotional
“This discussion has become truly heated and emotional, which is why it’s not surprising that deep and convoluted versions have come out about what truly happened,” Representative Binay said, referring to her father’s loyalty to Poe’s father. The Vice President served as FPJ’s campaign manager when the actor ran for President in 2004.
“Senator Poe knows my father [who] loved her father as a true friend. That’s a truth no one can question. If at the end, my father and Senator Poe part ways, there’s nothing we can do. We respect her decision with all our hearts,” she said.
But she also suggested that Tiangco’s questions about Poe’s qualifications be raised to the courts.
“A lot of legal matters have surfaced as a result of the statements of (Navotas) Rep. Toby Tiangco. We are convinced that all these issues can only be resolved in one way—through the courts,” she said.
“This should not be a venue for personal arguments between lawmakers and lawyers with varied opinions,” she said.
Binay said it was not her father’s habit to quarrel with anyone through the media over issues that ought to be taken up by the appropriate court or agency.
“It has long been his conviction, and whatever issues have been thrown at him this past year, he has one answer: Let the court, through its clean and fair determination, decide,” she said.
Stand by that report
She also challenged members of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee, including Poe, to stand by the panel’s partial report.
“If the senators signed this report because they believed every word of it, there’s nothing I can do. But it’s my right to question what’s in the committee report and its basis,” she said.
“As a lawmaker, I have one challenge: I hope they can stand by each and every word of that committee report. Because otherwise, their signatures mean nothing,” she said.
“Like Senator Poe, I’m also my father’s child, and I stand here to say it’s not easy for me to hear every day the accusations against my father. Their motives are as clear as day—for politics and 2016,” she said.
Vice President Binay, who was traveling to Tacloban City on Thursday, declined to comment when asked by reporters about the exchange between his followers and Poe.
When asked what he thought about Poe’s statement that the accusations being hurled against her were not as big as the corruption allegations against him, he said, “It’s OK.”
Asked about Poe’s statement that she was qualified to run, presumably for the presidency, he replied, “Well, we’ll see.”
Asked about Tiangco’s residency attack on Poe, Binay said he had known about that question for some time.
“But I told him not to touch that because I had a good relationship with FPJ. I value our friendship,” the Vice President said.
‘We have no quarrel’
Responding to Representative Binay’s call for peace, Poe said there was no personal quarrel between her and the Binays.
“I just responded to the accusations of their spokespersons since our people have the right to know what kind of person I am, because I hide nothing from them,” Poe said in a text message.
She said she had not forgotten the ties between her family and the Binays, but she had to do what she must.
“I am just being true to my duty,” she said.
An ally of the Vice President, Sen. JV Ejercito, stepped forward Thursday to defend Poe against the attack of another UNA official, JV Bautista, on the senator’s citizenship.
Poe is an adopted daughter of FPJ and actress Susan Roces. She was a foundling whose real parents had never been determined.
Ejercito said he believes Poe is qualified to run for President. “She was born and raised here. She was able to run in 2013,” he said in a telephone interview.
He said as a colleague, he felt compelled to speak up for Poe. He said he disagreed with the use of the foundling issue against her, regardless of who had raised it.
“Even if Senator Poe and I belong to different parties, I feel that the attack has gone overboard. It’s really foul,” he said.
“Whoever is behind this below-the-belt attack against Senator Poe, stating that she is not the real daughter of FPJ, is inhuman,” he said.–With a report from Christine O. Avendaño
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.