MANILA, Philippines – He supported Vice President Jejomar Binay during the 2010 elections. Isn't it just "logical" for Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero to support Binay again in the 2016 polls?
This was a question raised by a member of the audience during the vice presidential forum organized by the National Alliance of Youth Leaders held Monday, November 30, at the University of the Philippines.
"It's not logical," Escudero answered. "Put yourself in my shoes: Pagkatapos mong marinig lahat ng alegasyon na sinabi sa Senado – bagama't hindi ako isa doon sa mga nagdidiin sa kanya o naghahanap ng testigo laban sa kanya – at matapos, hanggang ngayon hindi niya masagot o sinasagot ang mga alegasyon na 'yun. Paano ko susuportahan siya?"
(Put yourself in my shoes: After you hear all the allegations mentioned at the Senate – although I'm not one of those accusing him or finding witnesses against him – and until now he cannot answer or he hasn't answered those allegations. How can I support him?)
In 2014, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee opened an investigation into corruption allegations against the Vice President. (READ: TIMELINE: Binay’s plunder case, one year after)
He has been accused of overpricing not only a Makati city parking building and the Makati Science High School building, but even the birthday cakes given for free by the city to its elderly.
The Office of the Ombudsman has already found probable cause to indict him, along with his son, dismissed Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr, and 22 others over the Makati city parking building.
Instead of appearing before the Senate committee, Binay has filed a series of libel complaints against his accusers. According to his lawyer, these complaints show that the Vice President wants to answer accusations against him "in the proper forum in accordance with the rule of law."
Escudero has distanced himself from Binay, saying he knew nothing of the allegations when he endorsed him over former Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II.
The senator supported the Aquino-Binay or "Noy-Bi" tandem in 2010, and he was credited by some sectors for helping the Vice President win.
"Hindi ko naman alam dati 'yun. Sabay-sabay nating nalaman nung may lumabas na testigo sa Senado. Bago nun, maraming naririnig…dahil 'pag nasa pulitika ka, marami naman talagang nagsasabi ng kung anu-ano sayo," Escudero reiterated on Monday.
(I didn't know then. We all found out at the same time when witnesses appeared before the Senate. Before that, we heard many things...because when you're in politics, a lot of people will really have many things to say about you.)
But for him, Binay's "silence" on the corruption allegations is questionable.
"Sa puntong ito, hanggang ngayon, nananahimik siya sa isyung napakaliwanag naman: totoo ba o hindi? Sayo ba o hindi? Kinuha mo ba o hindi? Madaling sagutin ng oo o lang o hindi yun kung saka-sakali. Pero yung pananahimik nagbibigay ng konklusyon para sa marami sa atin, kabilang na ako dun."
(At this point, until now, he remains silent over an issue that's clear: Is it true or not? Is it yours or not? Did you steal it or not? It's easy to answer that with a yes or no if ever. But his silence leads many people to conclude, including me.)
Escudero and Binay have had a falling out since the 2013 midterm elections, when Binay's United Nationalist Alliance dropped Escudero from its senatorial ticket.
Binay also dropped Poe, who is now Escudero's running mate and one of Binay's rivals in the 2016 presidential race. – Rappler.com
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.