CALBAYOG CITY, Samar—Vice President Jejomar Binay on Friday took a swipe at Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento over an alleged threat to stop supporters from attending his rally in the city which Binay touted as “Kill-bayog.”
During his rally at a public gymnasium here, Binay minced no words to condemn the spate of killings which gained notoriety in the city, where Interior Sec. Sarmiento was mayor for three terms or nine years before becoming Western Samar representative.
Sarmiento is also a member of the Liberal Party.
In his speech, Binay noted that there were only a few supporters in the rally because the supporters were threatened not to join.
“Congratulations sa inyong lahat; matatapang po kayo. ‘Yan ang inilaban natin sa Edsa, ‘yung diwa ng tunay na demokrasya,” Binay said.
(Congratulations to all of you; you are courageous. That is what we fought for in Edsa—the true essence of democracy.)
“Ang balita ko ang tawag sa lugar niyo, hindi Calbayog. Kill-bayog! Mr. Secretary, tapos na po ang takutan. Alam ko, kaya kayo kakaunti rito eh, pinagsabihan at tinakot para (hindi) pumunta rito. Congratulations, matatapang po kayo,” he added, rousing an applause from the audience.
(I heard this place is called Kill-bayog and not Calbayog. Mr. Secretary, the time for intimidation is over. I know that the reason why there are just a few of you here is because you were intimidated not to attend. Congratulations, because you are courageous!)
In a text message, Sarmiento denied instilling a rule of fear in Calbayog city and lamented that the Binay camp is resorting in the blame game.
“They should stop blaming others if they can only gather a few people for their rallies. My people can attest to my person when I was still involved in local politics. My politics is providing hope by focusing on development, never the rule of fear,” Sarmiento said.
Binay scored Sarmiento for his alleged role in the killings in the city where he was mayor for about a decade.
“Sobra na, tama na. Bakit pa ang patayan dito ilan na ang napapatay? Huwag ho kayo matakot. Wala ho mangyayari kung tayo ay matatakot,” Binay said.
(Enough already. How many have been killed here? Do not be afraid. We cannot accomplish anything if we’ll let fear take over us.)
“Mr. Secretary, asaan ang resulta du’n sa mga pinatay. Involved ka ba o ano ba?” he added.
(Mr. Secretary, where the result of the investigation on the killings? Are you involved or not?)
Binay reiterated his campaign promise of alleviating poverty first to eliminate criminality, and vowed to lead a country under the rule of law.
“Pangako ko ho sa inyo mga taga-Calbayog, ‘pag ako naging pangulo, it will be a rule of law hindi rule of takutan, wala ho tayong takutan,” he said.
(I promise the people of Calbayog, that if I become president, the rule of law, and not the rule of intimidation, will triumph. There will be no intimidation.)
“Ang problema po natin, Mr. Secretary, harapin muna natin ang problema ng kahirapan (Mr. Secretary, let’s first confront the problem of poverty),” he added.
Binay said the administration seemed to have lost touch with the sense of democracy which was restored after the Edsa People Power uprising.
Binay was a key supporter of Cory Aquino who was swept to the presidency after the toppling of the Marcos dictatorship.
The vice president also condemned the sense of martial law in the city.
“Uulitin ko lang, Mr. Secretary, wala tayong takutan. Sayang, sayang naman ang pinaglaban natin sa Edsa. Nilabanam natin ang martial law. Ito naman sa Kill-bayog mo, takot na takot ang tao. Wow! Bigyan mo naman ng breathing space,” Binay said.
(I will repeat, Mr. Secretary, let’s not intimidate the people. Let’s not throw away what we fought for in Edsa. We fought against martial law. Now, the people here are scared because of your Kill-bayog. Wow! Give the people some breathing space.)
Binay only staged a short speech in the tightly secured gymnasium and was escorted immediately out of the gym.
Due to the spate of killings and election-related violence, Calbayog is also identified by the police as an election hotspot. TVJ