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Ombudsman statement aimed at Binay–Palace

GRAFT BUSTER Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ statements during an exclusive interview with the INQUIRER stir up a political hornet’s nest. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

GRAFT BUSTER Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ statements during an exclusive interview with
the INQUIRER stir up a political hornet’s nest. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio Morales’ call for voters to choose in the May elections candidates with unblemished morality clearly points to Vice President Jejomar Binay “as someone who will not stand up to the bar of integrity,” Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda made this observation based on the opposition presidential aspirant’s refusal to explain the allegations of corruption against him.

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“When a candidate does not regard corruption as a moral issue, there is something categorically wrong with his moral constitution,” Lacierda told reporters.

He referred to “clearly a misrepresentation on (Binay’s political advertisement) of the mountain of documents which turned out to be allegations of corruption and not his answer to the charges leveled against him by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.”

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When sought for comment, United Nationalist Alliance president and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said: “We are used to being bullied by the Palace spokespersons. But this will not stop VP Binay from helping the poor.”

Morales has appealed to voters to “vote for people with integrity” in both local and national levels if they want a clean government, noting that a “super” number of corrupt government officials can still be found throughout the bureaucracy.

“It’s not enough to be smart and competent. The candidate should have integrity,” she said.

Morales said candidates should be able to present a clear anticorruption platform. “They should come up with what programs of government they will have, and they should include corruption.”

Directed at Binay

Also Monday, the Liberal Party-led Daang Matuwid coalition said the Ombudsman’s remark about the proliferation of corrupt officials in the bureaucracy was directed at Binay, who was facing a slew of corruption cases.

Coalition spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said Morales was correct in saying a “super” number of corrupt officials remain in government.

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“This means there’s a need to continue ‘daang matuwid’ not to stop our efforts to clean up the government,” he said, referring to the straight path mantra of the Aquino administration.

“Along with the Ombudsman, we call on all candidates to face all the accusations leveled at them in order to clear their names. They owe it to the people and to themselves,” he said.

“VP, please listen,” Gutierrez said as a parting shot to Binay.

The Liberal Party (LP) campaign has intensified its verbal attacks on the resurgent Binay since the Vice President reemerged as a front-runner in the presidential race in the past months.

Binay was No. 1 in the Social Weather Stations first quarter voter preference survey, followed by Sen. Grace Poe, LP standard-bearer Mar Roxas and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

On Sunday, in an interview with reporters in Siquijor, Roxas took the chance to hit Binay when asked to comment on the latter’s criticisms about his failings as interior secretary in the rehabilitation effort after the 2013 Bohol earthquake.

“I do not have the ability to steal the people’s money. I do not have the ability to promise heaven and earth just to get your votes. Job creation—that’s what I know and can do,” he said.

“The Vice President talks a lot. Let him answer first the corruption charges: The overpriced hospital and building. That is what he needs to do. What he did in Makati was theft. Pity us if he does this to the entire Philippines,” he said.

Lacierda has repeatedly assailed Binay for hitting the administration he once praised to high heavens after he failed to get President Aquino’s endorsement as his successor.

In a statement, Mr. Aquino’s spokesperson said the “decisive need” to step up daang matuwid, particularly the campaign against corruption in government, after the President’s term ends in June.

Lacierda said “the fight against corruption needs a leadership that is committed to lead by example.”

“In the same way that we need committed officials to continue the commitment of combating corruption in their respective offices,” he said.

Cases against officials

Lacierda noted that “under President Aquino, we have filed cases against several public officials regardless of their status in government.”

He did not name names, but he was apparently referring to, among others, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is facing a plunder case for the alleged misuse of P365 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds, as well as Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla who were linked to the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.

“Hence, there is a decisive need to further daang matuwid and to lead by example after the term of President Aquino is over,” Lacierda added.

Referring to Morales’ commentary on corruption, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said it “reflects the enormity of the challenge faced by government in dealing with deeply embedded corruption in the bureaucracy.”

He agreed with the Ombudsman in her observation that the President was “really pursuing this anticorruption campaign in earnest.” With a report from Christine O. Avendaño

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TAGS: Aquino Administration, Edwin Lacierda, Jejomar Binay, Nation, news, Ombudsman
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