Do a Binay, Cabinet bets told
Cabinet members and government executives with an eye on running for elections in 2016 should resign to avoid suspicions that they are using government resources for their personal gains, lawmakers said on Tuesday.
The call came a day after Vice President Jejomar Binay tendered his irrevocable resignation as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers.
Sen. JV Ejercito, a Binay ally, said it was only proper for Cabinet officials to quit if they want to seek elective positions so that they would not be seen as exploiting government resources.
“Others should follow Binay out of delicadeza [sense of propriety],” Ejercito said at the Kapihan sa Senado forum. “They may not be aware of it, but they’re using government machinery and resources for their own personal gains,” he added.
It would be unfair for them to stay in office, he said.
While resigning is a judgment call, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said it would be better for officials with plans to run to leave office early.
If Cabinet officials prolong their tenure in the administration and then ultimately run in the next elections, they would have much explaining to do, he said.
“The more government projects you inaugurate, the more goodies you distribute, the more the charge that you used government resources,” Pimentel said in a phone interview.
“They should be able to confront the allegations or charges that they used resources,” he added.
Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said resigning now would “remove suspicions that public funds are being used to advance their political plans.”
“I would suggest that everyone with 2016 electoral ambitions should resign from the Cabinet already,” Ridon said.
Ridon said he was “appalled” at how the Cabinet secretaries and executives were pushing their political stock by spending millions of pesos on television and radio ads disguised as “infomercials.”
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said President Aquino should take the initiative and suggest to his Cabinet secretaries and executives to step down and focus on campaign preparations.
“Delicadeza dictates that they should resign if they want to run for higher office. It is very trapo (traditional politician) for these Cabinet members to use their positions and people’s money to promote their names via media exposures, ad placements masquerading as tips,” Zarate said.
The Cabinet secretaries and government executives expected to run in the May 2016 elections were Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, for President, and for Senate seats Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. board member Risa Hontiveros, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority chief operations officer Mark Lapid, Metro Manila Development Authority Chair Francis Tolentino, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Joel Villanueva, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras and Health Secretary Janette Garin.
Malacañang has defended the TV and radio ads of Cabinet secretaries and executives as part of their jobs.
Sen. Vicente Sotto III, acting minority leader, said potential candidates would make a good impression by leaving their appointive positions way ahead of the filing of certificates of candidacy.
“If they want to avoid the public perception that they might be using their position or office to campaign, the earlier they resign the better,” Sotto said in a text message.
Of the potential candidates in the Cabinet, only Binay has categorically declared his intention to run for President in 2016.
Roxas, the Liberal Party’s presumptive standard-bearer, has yet to announce his candidacy.
President Aquino is scheduled to declare his presidential preference after his last State of the Nation Address on July 27.
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