Former Vice President Jejomar Binay is the latest target of a scathing rebuke of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo following the former official’s criticisms of the Duterte administration.
In his “Counterpoint” program Sunday, Panelo questioned Binay’s track record as well as lifestyle, asking what good he has done for the country during his term as vice president.
The Palace official also raised suspicion that Binay might run for public office after issuing some fierce criticisms of the administration.
Binay recently questioned the alleged dearth of compassion and common sense in some government officials as he opposed attempts to impose “oppressive policies” during the pandemic.
The former vice president sought a moratorium in an increase in government fees until the health emergency is over.
“Si Jojo Binay, nandiyan ka pa pala. Akala ko nagretiro ka na. Mukhang tatakbo ka yata. Ano kayang tatakbuhan nito? baka tatakbong mayor, tatakbong congressman (You’re still there, Jojo Binay. I thought you retired. It appears you’ll run for public office. What post will you seek? He might run for mayor, run for congressman),” Panelo said during his commentary show.
“Ito nagpapalabas na mga maaanghang pahayag. Sabi ba naman niya ‘Compassion and common sense.’ Naku ha? coming from you? Ikaw naman. Ikaw galing ka na diyan. Naging bise presidente ka na. Sabihin mo nga sa amin kung ano naman ang magandang nagawa mo bilang bise presidente. Hay naku Jojo, you got a long way (He released some fiery statements. He said there should be compassion and common sense. Coming from you? You’ve been there. You were once a vice president. Tell us what good have you done as vice president. You got a long way, Jojo),” he added.
Panelo also did not mince words when he talked about Binay’s apparent wealthy lifestyle ever since he joined the government.
He recalled that Binay used to be an “ordinary” worker and wore “humble” clothes during their struggle against martial law period.
“After that, bigla kang… look at you now. Saan ka ba nakatira ngayon? Yung mga anak mo? Mga exclusive (After that, you have… look at you now. Where do you live now? Your children? In exclusive places). Eh kami, kung saan kami nakatira noon, doon pa rin kami nakatira (while we are still living in the same place),” he said.
“And then naging bise presidente ka, nakinabang ka sa paglalakad natin sa langsangan. Tapos eto ka naman bumabanat ka naman (And then you became vice president, you benefited from our struggle in the streets. Now you’re hurling criticisms),” he said.
Last Feb. 17, Binay wrote a Manila Bulletin column titled “Compassion and common sense,” taking a swipe at the government’s “serial fumbling” in mitigating the impact of the pandemic.
Binay said the government seemed to never learn when it tried to impose higher fees for mandatory vehicle inspections, which was heavily criticized by motorists.
He mentioned the government’s controversial policy of motorcycle barrier between the driver and passenger, that was later scrapped due to criticisms.
“And the propensity of some government officials to insist on imposing these oppressive policies, often accompanied by threats of punitive response for non-compliance, exhibits insensitivity and dearth of compassion so badly needed in these times,” Binay said.
The former vice president suggested that the moratorium on increase in government fees until the pandemic is over could be a “wiser course of action.”
“It’s a simple solution, plain common sense. But it seems to have eluded most government officials,” he said.
As the country remained on extended lockdown, Binay observed that the government seemed “more fixated with imposing additional burdens on an already burdened public rather than extending relief and comfort.”
“It is more concerned with silencing critics, red-tagging its enemies, dispensing pork barrel, and controlling the narrative, rather than effectively controlling the spread of the virus,” he said.
Panelo strongly denied Binay’s allegations against the government. He said the government is actually exerting efforts to curb the spread of the virus, protect public health, and provide aid to pandemic-hit sectors, contrary to claims that it was adding to the public burden.
He also rejected Binay’s claims that the government was trying to silence critics, saying they are merely addressing the baseless accusations and insults.
“That is not silencing. That is, Jojo, responding to you and to all of you,” he said.
On pork barrel allegations, Panelo asked Binay what he did to address such a system among his party mates in Congress.
“We’re not controlling the narrative. You’re the one spreading the false narratives. We’re trying to correct them, we’re trying to straighten them out,” he said.
Binay was a longtime mayor of Makati City before being elected as vice president in 2010. He ran and lost in the 2016 presidential elections.
In 2019, he failed to make a political comeback when he lost in the congressional race in Makati City’s first district.