REMATCH. Vice President Jejomar Binay (left) and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II (right) are expected to go head-to-head in the 2016 presidential race.
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Criticisms don’t matter when they’re not based on facts.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II made the statement as the opposition, led by former Cabinet member and Vice President Jejomar Binay, continues to pile on criticisms against the Aquino administration.
Roxas called on the opposition to stick to facts, and stop using “rhetorical generalities.”
“Yung mga banat na 'yan, bale wala yan e kasi hindi naka-base sa katotohanan (Those tirades don’t matter because they are not based on the truth),” Roxas told reporters on Friday, July 3, on the sidelines of the distribution of new police patrol jeeps to towns in Misamis Occidental.
The interior secretary, who lost the vice presidential post to Binay in the 2010 elections, was reacting to the opposition’s claims that the Aquino administration “Daang Matuwid” – the catch-phrase for its transparency, anti-corruption and good governance drive – is lopsided.
Taking another shot at Binay, who had called the Aquino administration “insensitive and failed,” Roxas said: “Supalpal lahat eh. Kung hindi nakatungtong sa katotohanan, lahat ito ay hot air lang. So kami, sa hanay ng pamahalaan ni pangulong PNoy nakatutok kami sa aming tungkulin na pagsilbihan ang aming boss."
(Everything, we can rebut. If it’s not based on the truth, it’s all hot air. Those in government, those allied with the President, we’re focused on our responsibility to serve our bosses.)
Binay, members of his United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), and their allies, are accusing the Aquino government of “selective justice,” pursuing only its political opponents but sparing allies from prosecution.
It was under Aquino’s term that 3 senators from the opposition – Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Senator Bong Revilla – were detained over their alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
Roxas denied the allegation, citing figures. “Sabi nila, selective. Kitang-kita na out of 85 na sinuspinde ng Ombudsman, 25 or so are members of the Liberal Party. Kung titingnan natin ang mga conviction ng Sandigan, may mga members of the Liberal Party who have been convicted. Kung titingnan natin ang mga kaso filed by the Ombudsman, members of the Liberal Party rin ang kasama diyan."
(They say its selective but it’s clear that out of 85 officials suspended by the Ombudsman, 25 or so are members of the Liberal Party. If you look at convictions made by the Sandiganbayan, there are members of the Liberal Party who are convicted. If you look at the cases filed by the Ombudsman, members of the Liberal Party are also there.)
Recently, the Ombudsman said it would file charges against the second batch of individuals allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam, including former Customs chief Rozzano Rufino Biazon, a Liberal Party ally.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales had cited the case of Biazon and the dismissal of former National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima as proof of the Ombudsman's independence. Purisima is a close friend of President Benigno Aquino III. (READ: 'Impeach me,' Ombudsman dares critics)
‘Desperate, in denial’
Roxas’ statements in Cagayan de Oro did not go unnoticed by the Binay camp. In a statement issued Saturday, July 4, it zoomed in on Roxas’ term as transportation secretary.
Binay spokesman Rico Quicho alleged that the “downhill slide” of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) began during Roxas’ tenure in the DOTC. Roxas was transportation secretary for over a year before he was appointed as interior secretary.
“The downhill slide of the MRT started under your watch at the DOTC, Mr Secretary. This is something you cannot deny,” said Quicho.
He added: “After 5 years, the MRT is not just slow, it's slower. And it is not only weak, it's a public hazard and a certified rolling coffin for the thousands of passengers. And all because of corruption and inefficiency involving Secretary Roxas' appointees and the Liberal Party.”
The transportation department is currently headed by another Liberal Party stalwart, former Cavite representative Joseph Emilio Abaya. Quicho also hit Roxas for supposedly using the DILG for his “personal political aggrandizement.”
“This again illustrates the governance that rewards the manhid (insensitive) and palpak (failed) at the expense of the people,” said Quicho.
Asked on Saturday, July 4, about the controversy surrounding the MRT, Roxas said he wasn’t sure of what happened after he was moved to the DILG.
“Pero ang masasabi ko ay it was Sumitomo, the service provider, 'yun ang nadatnan ko at [nagpatuloy lang ito] (What I can say is that it was Sumitomo, the service provider. It was there when I entered the DOTC and [it was just continued]),” he said.
Sumitomo Corporation, a Japanese-owned company, used to maintain the MRT Line 3.
Roxas is presumed to be the LP standard-bearer in 2016. The farthest he got to declaring his candidacy was when he said he was “ready” to face the challenges of continuing the Aquino government’s reforms. He was responding to Aquino’s statement that he was on “top of the list” for LP standard-bearer.
Aquino is set to announce his anointed candidate after his last State of the Nation Address in late July.
While Roxas has improved in national surveys on voters' preference for president, he continues to lag behind current front runner Senator Grace Poe, and the Vice President. Poe is being eyed as Roxas’ running-mate. – Rappler.com