Malacañang on Thursday came out swinging against Vice President Jejomar Binay, challenging President Benigno Aquino III's former ally to back up with hard data his attacks on the administration. Criticisms should not be solely based on "rhetoric" and "clichés," Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said at a Palace briefing.
"Isn't it only right that when one hurls allegations or tells the people something, these should have concrete basis? That these are not speculation, suspicion, cliché, or rhetoric?" Coloma said in Filipino.
The Filipino people are "intelligent" and they would look for basis for every allegation made by the Vice President, he said. "They cannot be deceived or carried away by passionate declarations." Saying he was through being the "punching bag" of Mr. Aquino's allies seeking higher office, Binay resigned on June 22.
The Vice President has since slammed the Aquino administration as "insensitive and bumbling" (manhid at palpak), citing the woeful state of the Metro Rail Transit, the massacre of 44 police commandos and Malacañang's pork barrel, the Disbursement Acceleration Program, portions of which the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional.
On Wednesday, Binay did not withhold his attack against President Aquino and his administration at the launch of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) as the dominant opposition party that he leads. He said the government was "lazy, slow and indecisive."
"It would be better if you, or the bosses themselves, would judge who is telling the truth. We are defending our record… The administration is ready to address any issue or question they have," Coloma said, referring to the opposition.
Coloma listed what he said were only some of the Aquino administration's "achievements"-an improvement in disaster preparedness and response; the P49-billion savings of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), once considered one of the most corrupt government agencies; allotting almost 37 percent or P953 billion for social development and poverty reduction; and the expansion of the conditional cash transfer program.
Coloma also said that unemployment rate went down to 6.6 percent in January this year from 7.5 percent last year.
The number of overseas Filipino workers is now at 8.4 million, from 10 million, he added.
Coloma cited a recent Social Weather Stations survey that said the number of Filipinos experiencing involuntary hunger is at 13.5 percent, its lowest in ten years.
Coloma also said that a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies and the United Nations Children's Fund showed that the number of out-of-school children between 5 and 15 years old has been reduced from 11.7 percent to 5.2 percent.
"President Aquino has built on the platform of good governance. The Aquino administration has brought forth a government that is open, transparent and accountable," Coloma said. "The Aquino administration stands on its record of good governance that has transformed Philippine society and restored the Filipinos' sense of pride and dignity."
What about corruption?
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas told reporters he noticed Binay had yet to talk about corruption.
"That means the record of this administration in fighting corruption is good. It means they recognize that we are really treading the 'daang matuwid' (straight path)," he said, in reference to Mr. Aquino's anticorruption slogan.
"If there's no corruption, there's no poverty. That's the primary concern of the government. We want to reform the system to ensure that public funds will go to the people," Roxas said.
As to Binay's tirades against the problematic train system, he said: "If the MRT is slow, we can make it faster. If something is weak, we can make it strong … But corrupt officials? They're already corrupt. They're thieves. That's why it's good that he did not say anything about corruption against President Aquino under his leadership." With a report from Marlon Ramos