MANILA, Philippines – After 3 jabs from President Benigno Aquino III including a popular line from comedian Vice Ganda, Vice President Jejomar Binay quickly walked straight to his car and skipped questions on the State of the Nation Address (SONA).
In a break from previous years, a visibly peeved Binay evaded questions on the SONA. Reporters trailed Binay at the House of Representatives on Monday, July 27, to get his response on Aquino's criticism but failed to get an answer.
On all questions concerning the SONA, the opposition standard-bearer had one curt reply: “In due time. In due time.”
In his more-than-two-hour address to Congress, Aquino took a swipe at Binay at least 3 times in his signature Filipino, colloquial language.
The President struck back after Binay resigned from his Cabinet in June with a one-sentence resignation letter.
In a televised address and during campaign sorties, the chairman of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) blasted the administration's perceived failure to ensure economic growth trickles down to the poor, and for “selective justice” against political opponents.
Binay has said he plans to deliver a “True State of the Nation” soon after Aquino's SONA. It remains unclear if this will push through.
Aquino, chairman of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), used the SONA and pop culture references to respond to Binay's criticism.
“Ang hirit nila: Mabagal daw tayo. Kapag sila raw ang naging Pangulo, sigurado, gaganda ang buhay. Sa mga medyo may edad po, ang isasagot dito, “Ah, ganun?” sabay taas ng kilay,” Aquino said in reference to Binay's campaign slogan.
“Para naman sa kabataan, iba na raw po ang tugon nila sa ganoong pahayag, iba na daw po ang uso ngayon eh: Eh di wow!”
(Their line is: We are slow. They say if they become President, for sure, people's lives will be better. To those older, the answer is: 'Oh really?' with a raised eyebrow. To the youth, the response today is different: Eh di wow!)
Comedian Vice Ganda made the line “Eh di wow” popular through TV shows and a song. It was lifted from the theme song of the TV show, Inday Bote. Often used in a sarcastic manner, the expression could also be interpreted to mean, “Ikaw na yung magaling” (You think you know best.)
The President delivered the barb after trumpeting his administration's economic gains that drew global commendation.
Aquino also cited another celebrity to attack Binay.
This time, Aquino spoke about benefits Filipinos get from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or Philhealth. The President said Philhealth beneficiaries increased from 47 million at the start of his term to 89.4 million in June. Beneficiaries get free services from public hospitals.
“Ito po ‘yung pagkalingang tinatawag ng iba na palpak at manhid. Ang tugon ko po, sabi nga ni Aiza Seguerra noong araw, “I thank you, bow,” Aquino said referring to the former child star.
(This is the care that some call failed and callous. My response, as Aiza Seguerra said before, “I thank you, bow.”)
'Time to pass anti-dynasty bill'
The son of martyr Senator Benigno Aquino Jr and the late President Corazon Aquino also said he is keen on supporting the anti-political dynasty bill.
Aquino gave pointed statements that obviously referred to the Binay dynasty. “May mali rin sa pagbibigay ng pagkakataong habambuhay na magpakasasa sa kapangyarihan ang isang tiwaling pamilya o indibidwal.”
(There is something wrong in giving a corrupt family or individual the opportunity to stay in power forever.)
Aquino said this was why he rejects suggestions to extend his term even for 3 years.
“Di tayo makakasiguro kung malinis ang intensiyon ng mga susunod, o kung nanaisin lang nilang habambuhay na maghari-harian para sa sariling interes. Panahon na para ipasa ang isang Anti-Dynasty Law.”
(We will not have the assurance that successors will have clean intentions or they intend to rule forever for their own personal interests. It's time to pass the anti-dynasty law.)
The Binays are infamous for having 4 family members in office at the same time. The Vice President has two daughters in Congress – Senator Nancy Binay and Makati Representative Abigail Binay – while his son, Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr, succeeded him as mayor of Makati. Binay's wife, Elenita, was also Makati mayor when the Vice President had to observe the 3-term limit.
In contrast, Aquino was all praises for Binay's bitter rival, Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II. He told the LP president-on-leave: “You proved you cannot put a good man down.”
Aquino is expected to endorse Roxas as presidential bet in the coming days, after turning down Binay's “secret wish” for support.
The President's statement is the latest in his worsening row with Binay, a former family friend.
As a human rights lawyer, Binay supported Aquino's mother during the martial law days. Cory Aquino gave Binay his political break by appointing him officer-in-charge of Makati when she became president.
'Binay not alluded to'
With Binay abruptly leaving, his allies were forced to field questions in his place.
UNA President Tobias “Toby” Tiangco said that Binay was “definitely not” feeling alluded to.
Tiangco told reporters: “I can assure you he was not offended because he was not even alluded to. Why be offended if it wasn't you?”
The Navotas representative said UNA did not feel the President was referring to the party when he said that critics are fond of attacking the administration without proposing solutions.
“We keep giving solutions. I even challenged the candidates last week to show their platform. We should talk about solutions so definitely, that was not us,” he said.
Tiangco also said that improving people's lives was not just a slogan, but something Binay did as Makati mayor for 21 years.
On Aquino's “Eh di wow,” Binay's defender said: “That's okay. It's accepted. It's his (Aquino) SONA. He can say whatever he wants.”
Tiangco scored Aquino for “inconsistency” in hailing his administration's accomplishments while glossing over the poor services of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) system.
Staunch Binay critic Senator Antonio Trillanes IV agreed that Aquino's statement defending the administration in the MRT issue was a “hard-sell.”
Yet Trillanes said it was only appropriate for Aquino to take a dig at Binay.
“Nakita mo kahit binibira niya, 'di niya tinira directly dahil 'di iyon ang proper forum para birahin niya si VP Binay. Sinabi lang niya mali itong sinasabi mo. Ito iyon,” Trillanes said.
(You saw that even if he criticized VP Binay, he did not do so directly because this is not the proper forum for that. He just said what you are saying is wrong. It's this way.)
On Binay's quick exit, Trillanes said: “Nag-iisip pa iyon anong sasabihin, gagawin pa ng mga writer.” (He is still thinking of a response. His writers are still crafting it.) – Rappler.com