If Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte wins next month’s presidential election, his rival Vice President Jejomar Binay will be the first “big fish” to be sent to jail, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said Wednesday.
“Binay would in all likelihood be the first big fish to be sent to jail with the preponderance of evidence of corruption against him during his stint as Makati mayor for more than 20 years,” Pimentel, the president of PDP-Laban, Duterte’s political party, said in statement.
He said a Duterte administration would spare no one, regardless of social status or political affiliation, in a relentless campaign against crime and corruption.
"The platform of [government] presented to the people by Mayor Duterte and his running mate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, guarantees equality under the law,” Pimentel said.
“That does not mean the rich and the powerful can get away with murder and mischief and steal from the public coffers with impunity,” he added.
Binay stepped up his attacks on Duterte earlier in the week after the Davao City mayor topped two voter preference polls, saying criminals either killed or sent to jail in Davao City all came from the ranks of the poor.
Binay and some members of his family are facing a string of corruption charges, including the alleged overpricing in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II.
“Binay can very well afford to get the best lawyers to defend himself against charges of plunder filed by the Office of the Ombudsman after the May elections, when he will not only be jobless, but quite possibly also facing trial for a capital crime,” Pimentel said.
He pointed out that based on poll results, Duterte enjoys overwhelming support from all the social classes: A, B, C, D and E.
Binay has called Duterte a “national executioner” for the mayor’s supposed links to extrajudicial killings in Davao City.
Fighting back, Duterte has called Binay “butcher of the people’s money.”
“Don’t vote for Binay because he would steal your money. I have killed criminals, but if Binay wins the presidency, he will be a threat to your pockets,” Duterte said in an interview with reporters in San Miguel, Bulacan, before proceeding to his campaign events in three other neighboring towns in the province Wednesday.
“You choose, a killer of criminals or a thief of the people’s money? With his wife and children, he robs the people,” he said.
Known for his brutally frank statements, Duterte said it was never a question of how many people he had killed.
“It is over. The question here is corruption,” Duterte said, adding he never gained anything from the killings in Davao.
Duterte, 71, has earned both the public’s anger and admiration for his iron-fist leadership in Davao and his supposed links to the vigilantes believed to be behind the killings of criminals in the city.
The mayor said the intensified attacks by his rivals against him were not surprising because he had overtaken them in the voter preference polls.
Asked what advice he would give Binay, Duterte said: “He should kneel down, cry sincerely, pray and do it every day up to the elections.”
He said Binay’s wife, former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay, and son, dismissed Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, should join him in asking for God’s forgiveness.
“It’s billions,” he said, referring to the ill-gotten wealth allegedly amassed by the Binays through overpriced infrastructure contracts in Makati City.
Binay has turned to Facebook in trying to discredit Duterte, urging people not to make the mistake of voting for the Davao mayor.
“Why? Because Mr. Duterte continues to brag and say that if he becomes President, he will continue killing those whom he accuses of violating the law, and he had killed children, including your siblings, something he has not denied,” Binay said in his Facebook account Wednesday.
He accused Duterte of being the leader of the so-called Davao Death Squad, which has been blamed for extrajudicial executions of criminals in Davao City.
Binay warned people not to vote for Duterte lest their loved ones become his targets when the mayor becomes President.
“Let us oppose this. This should not prevail. We fought martial law and the statements of Mr. Duterte are worse than martial law,” Binay said.
Binay also rejected Duterte’s challenge to face him in a public debate, saying the mayor had already admitted to being part of the Davao Death Squad.
“Your challenge to a debate is just a cheap gimmick. It only shows that you cannot give a reply because I was telling the truth: that you kill the poor, not the rich. You kill with impunity and you don’t recognize the law of man and the law of God,” Binay said.
He also reminded people of a 2002 report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism quoting Duterte as saying he had no compunction about killing minors: “I will not hesitate to kill them. I don’t care about minors.”
“Killing people who are kneeling down or with their hands tied behind their backs is not courage. It is an act of cowardice. Only a coward kills children,” Binay said.
Binay’s vice presidential running mate, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, said a Duterte presidency would be a strong one, “but the gray area is rights.”
“I don’t know if the Davao experiment will work on a national scale and these are variables we cannot discuss,” Honasan said in a television interview.
He also said he believed Binay could win the presidency despite trailing behind Sen. Grace Poe and Duterte in the polls.
Honasan noted that Binay’s numbers are “steady” and not going up and down, unlike those of his rivals.
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