Philippine vice-president blasts Aquino, declares candidacy

Philippine Vice-President Jejomar Binay reviews honor guards during Independence Day rites at Luneta Park in Manila, Philippines, 12 June 2015. PHOTO: EPA

MANILA (AFP) - Controversial Philippine Vice-President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday angrily lashed out at President Benigno Aquino as he declared his determination to run for president in 2016.

Mr Binay, 73, a former staunch supporter of the Aquino family, accused the ruling administration of practising "twisted justice" and of failing to improve life for the poor in the South-east Asian archipelago of 100 million.

"This is what our people are seeking: a government that is the opposite of the callous and failing government that we have today," Mr Binay, who previously refrained from directly attacking Mr Aquino, said.

His remarks came after he resigned from his Cabinet post on Monday as special adviser on the millions of Filipino workers overseas. It also comes amid efforts of a government anti-corruption agency to charge him for corruption allegedly committed during his many years as mayor of the financial district of Makati before he became vice-president.

Mr Binay said these charges were politically motivated to keep him from running in the 2016 presidential elections.

Mr Aquino, who is barred by law from running for another term, is widely expected to endorse a successor from his own Liberal Party in 2016. Mr Binay is not a member of that party.

"If your plan was to prevent me from running for president in 2016, you have made a mistake. I do not run from a fight," Mr Binay said.

He assailed Mr Aquino's record, saying that only a small elite of Mr Aquino's allies had benefited from the economic growth and policies under the president.

"This is the twisted justice of the administration today," he said.

Addressing the public, he said: "I will be with you through thick and thin but now, as the leader of the opposition."

Mr Aquino's spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that during the five years in Mr Aquino's Cabinet, he had never criticised the administration's policies.

"He has made the unfortunate choice to commence his presidential run with statements that he could have otherwise discussed with the president as a cabinet member but chose not to," Mr Lacierda said in a statement.

Under Philippine law, the president and vice-president are elected separately, allowing Mr Aquino and Mr Binay to be voted in as president and vice-president respectively in 2010 even though they were not running mates.

However, Mr Aquino, in keeping with a longstanding political tradition, appointed Mr Binay to his Cabinet.

Despite the charges against him, surveys have shown that Mr Binay enjoys high approval ratings and comes at or near the top of potential presidential winners in 2016.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.