Chiz: No regrets supporting VP Binay

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Vice President Jejomar Binay addresses the crowd during the 36th National Conference of Employers at Marriott hotel in Pasay City on Friday. Binay told the business community his family only has five bank accounts, denying the Anti Money Laundering Council report that he owns about 242 bank accounts. (MNS Photo)

Vice President Jejomar Binay addresses the crowd during the 36th National Conference of Employers at Marriott hotel in Pasay City on Friday. Binay told the business community his family only has five bank accounts, denying the Anti Money Laundering Council report that he owns about 242 bank accounts. (MNS Photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Senator Francis Escudero, who is rumored to be running for higher office in 2016, said Wednesday he has no regrets supporting the vice-presidential candidacy of Jejomar Binay in 2010.

Escudero came out in TV ads in 2010 supporting the candidacies of Liberal Party standard-bearer Benigno Aquino III and opposition candidate Jejomar Binay. Both candidates won in the 2010 polls.

The senator said he does not regret supporting Binay since he did not know about the corruption allegations against the then Makati mayor.

“Knowing what I knew then, no. Knowing what I know now, but then again hindsight is 20/20. Wala ka nang magagawa nun,” he said.

He compared his support for Binay to President Aquino’s and Secretary Mar Roxas’ own support for then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004 before allegations of widespread cheating came out.

“Si Secretary Roxas at Pangulong Aquino sinuportahan din si GMA nun. Nung nalaman nila ang mga ginawa ni GMA, bumitiw at kumalas sila sa pagbigay ng suporta sa kanya. Walang masama dun,” he said.

“I don’t regret anything I’ve done simply because I did not know those things at that time…I do not regret and it is not my habit to regret the things that I’ve done. I learn from it. I pick up from it but I do not regret it,” he added.

Escudero pointed out that while there were allegations of corruption against Binay before the 2010 polls, the testimonies and other evidence only came to the fore after the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee started its investigation on anomalies during Binay’s time as mayor.

Among the allegations are the rigging of biddings for various infrastructure projects including the Makati Science High School and Makati City Hall Building II; and the Binay family’s alleged ownership of huge tracts of land in Rosario, Batangas.

He noted the Court of Appeals has already issued a freeze order on 242 assets of Binay and his associates based on the recommendation of the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

“At the very least, there is sufficient basis. Otherwise the AMLC or the CA would not have issued such an order,” he said.

The senator is one of several signatories to the committee report recommending the filing of charges against Binay and several others in connection with the Makati corruption allegations. He said this is in compliance with Binay’s own request that he be given his day in court.

In 2010, Escudero told radio DZMM that he did not want to endorse Mar Roxas for vice-president because Aquino and Binay would be a more balanced team in Malacanang.

He also said Roxas was “kulang sa kalyo”, indicating that the latter lived a wealthy life.

Asked if he regrets not supporting Roxas, he said: “I don’t regret and I cannot change anything in the past. I just learn from it.”

Meanwhile, Escudero also denied that he twice spurned former president Joseph Estrada’s offer to run as his vice-president.

He said there is no truth to reports he told Estrada: “It’s the presidency or nothing.”

“That’s not true. That even came out in a book somewhere. Hindi ko sinagot yon. Hindi ko bibigyan ng kawalan ng paggalang si dating pangulong Estrada sa pagbigay ng ganyang uri ng sagot. Naalala ko yang conversation na yan sa bahay niya at sa opisina, at ang sabi ko ay hindi pa ako tiyak at sigurado sa tatakbuhan ko o pagtakbo ko,” he said.

He denied that he declined Estrada’s offer, saying he had not yet decided when he talked to the former president.

He also said he is willing to meet with Estrada to clear things up.

Escudero is widely rumored to be eyeing the vice-presidency in 2016, opposite Sen. Grace Poe who is allegedly seeking the presidency.

On Tuesday, Escudero resigned as chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Finance and as co-chairman of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Public Expenditures.

He said he is stepping down “out of delicadeza” since he is seriously considering running for the 2016 elections. (MNS)

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