Binay asks students not to quickly judge pols accused of graft, corruption
DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental, Philippines — Vice President Jejomar Binay gave his side in a string of graft and corruption cases filed against him before more than 200 students at the Silliman University on Tuesday, explaining the difference between graft and corruption, and urging the public to hear out those accused in line with due process.
Binay, who was with his running mate, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, gamely answered the questions posed by students of the Silliman University inside the Silliman Hall.
Only five students were allowed to ask questions because Binay was late coming for his scheduled 10 a.m. visit. He arrived at the SU at 11:30 a.m. after attending the Mass at the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral in Dumaguete City for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Sophomore student Dale Casocot asked Binay about his stand on lying and corruption. “What do you think of people who are liars and who are corrupt? Will you consider yourself to be one of them?” he asked.
Binay told Casocot that whenever someone was accused of a crime, people tended to believe that the accused was guilty.
For instance, people automatically assume that the money used to buy nice pieces of jewelry worn by government employees come from government coffers but those accused of wrongdoing may be able to explain how they got the jewelry, according to Binay.
Binay, who is facing charges of graft, malversation and falsification of public documents in connection with the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II, said graft and corruption are not the same.
Graft is the abusive use of power, corruption is about mishandling money, according to Binay.
Binay maintained that 85 to 95 percent of the allegations thrown against him were neither graft nor corruption.
“Those [allegations] were (about) special procedures,” Binay said.
Binay said that giving burial assistance was one of the questionable acts he was asked to explain. “[They say that] there is no law that allows it. But I said, there is no law that prohibits it,” Binay said, reminding the students that he once practiced law.
Honasan urged the students to be vigilant but be careful in judging politicians. “Trial by publicity should not be the way. The conviction must come from the courts, not from the 6 p.m. news,” said the senator.
Honasan added that the political landscape in the country has become personality-driven and market-driven.
“It has been about ‘Who got disqualified? Who replaces who? Who got sick?’ People are not talking about the platforms anymore,” said Honasan who reminded students to look beyond images and ask what candidates could do.
To answer Casocot, Binay vowed not to tolerate graft and corruption in his watch. Honasan, in a separate speech, said the same.
A Sillimanian also asked Binay if Comelec should sanction him for premature campaigning because of his TV ads.
Binay answered that the airing of his ads was not a form of early campaigning, since “our election laws do not consider the ads as campaign materials.”
“I am still not campaigning,” Binay said.
Binay told SU students that he would rather not compare himself to other candidates.
When asked what his edge was over the other candidates, the Vice President cited his sufficient experience of working in the executive branch, which is headed by the President.
“I am also academically prepared for the position,” Binay added.
Binay and members of his slate under the United Nationalist Alliance arrived in Negros Oriental on Monday.
He first went to Bacong town before noon on Monday and Ong Che Tee Bacong High School.
From Bacong, Binay also met with sectoral groups, senior citizens and residents of Dauin, Zamboangita, Siaton, and Catalina towns.
On Tuesday, he paid a courtesy call to Bishop Julito B. Cortes of the Diocese of Dumaguete before attending a forum at the Silliman Hall and toured the SU campus.
He then proceeded to the towns of Sibulan, San Jose, Amlan and Tanjay.
On Wednesday, he will be in Bais, Manjuyod, Bindoy, Ayungon, Tayasan, Jimalalud, Guihulngan, and Vallehermosa.
He will join the celebration of the Kasadyaan Festival at the Foundation University in Dumaguete.
On Thursday, he will visit the Negros Oriental State University. SFM
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