MANILA, Philippines – As a member of the official family, Malacañang said its trust and confidence in Vice President Jejomar Binay remain despite a Senate probe into allegations of corruption against him when he was Mayor of Makati.
On Wednesday, August 27, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Binay is part of the official family, “and there is the trust and confidence, insofar as a member of the official family is concerned.”
Lacierda however, refused to defend Binay outright, only saying the administration, like the Filipino people, are “observers of the process.”
Asked why Malacañang did not come to the defense of Binay the same way it backed Cabinet secretaries embroiled in previous controversies, Lacerda called the question “unfair.”
“I think that’s an unfair question to ask us because if the question posed against the Vice President would be an issue that involved him as somebody holding the position of the Vice President, or him being the chairman of the NHA (National Housing Authority) or the housing sector, that’s something that we can respond to,” he said.
“The allegations against the Vice President were during his tenure as mayor. [It is] far from us to comment on something which we were not yet in government. We are not familiar with the situation there, and we are just as you are, observing the proceedings. So that is not a fair question to ask the official family.”
Malacañang however, staunchly defended Budget Secretary Butch Abad, despite alleged links to businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, who is being tried for plunder. Napoles implicated Abad as having worked with her to pocket his development funds while he was a representative for his home province of Batanes.
Lacierda also categorically denied that Malacañang is behind the Senate investigation, adding “they are not involved in the process” and the probe itself is being undertaken by an independent branch of government.
He refused to react to the probe.
“Color may be placed in our statement so we’d rather not comment insofar as the investigation is concerned,” he said.
Binay debunked allegations by a longtime aide that he earned from projects in Makati, particularly the controversial Makati "parking building" which is the subject of an ongoing Senate probe.
The vice president, considered the frontrunner in the 2016 presidential race, refused to commit to attend the Senate inquiry, saying he prefers to explain his side directly to the people.
On Wednesday morning, Binay held a press conference wherein he denied all accusations, questioned his former aide’s credibility, and said the investigation is a politically-motivated demolition job as 2016 nears.
President Benigno Aquino III has yet to endorse a 2016 presidential candidate. Binay is not a member of the president's ruling Liberal Party and is part of the opposition. – Rappler.com