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The opposition must be dreaming.
Two Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts on Monday disputed allegations made by the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) that Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II is behind a smear campaign called “Oplan Stop Nognog 2016” (Oplan SN16) against Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, LP secretary general, said Roxas has no time to be involved in the supposed demolition jobs against the Vice President because he is preoccupied with his tasks as a Cabinet secretary.
“Secretary Roxas would never be involved in such so-called demolition job because for one, he doesn’t need it and two, he is too busy with his job as DILG Secretary and has no time for such nonsense,” he said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, UNA Secretary General JV Bautista claimed in a television interview that Roxas was the brains behind a “well-funded, well-financed, and well-organized conspiracy” to discredit Binay and diminish his chances of winning in the next national elections.
The plot is reportedly called “Operation Stop Nognog in 2016”.
“Nognog is a long-time character in a comic strip. He's supposed to be small and dark-skinned. If you ask any Liberal Party operative, when they speak of the Vice President, they refer to him under the code 'Nognog.’ That’s what they call him, derisively," Bautista said in an interview aired on ANC.
Bautista said he does not know if President Benigno Aquino III, party chairman, knows about the smear campaign against Binay but he said he is certain “the conspiracy goes all the way up only until Mar Roxas.”
Roxas is on leave as Liberal Party president but is the ruling party’s presumptive presidential candidate for 2016.
Binay has been vocal about his plans to run for president under UNA.
No Oplan SN16
Sarmiento dismissed “Oplan Stop Nognog in 2016” as a product of Bautista’s imagination.
“Attorney Bautista must be seeing hearing and seeing things that are outside the realm of reality,” he said.
Sarmiento noted that former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, Binay’s former ally who has accused the Vice President of benefiting from the allegedly overpriced construction of the Makati City Hall Building II, is not affiliated with the Liberal Party.
Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV, who have been at the forefront of the Senate probe on the issue are not LP members, he added.
“Mercado, Trillanes and Cayetano all belong to the same political party. When Mercado ran in 2010, he ran under NP (Nacionalista Party),” he said, referring to Bautista's claim that the three are involved in Oplan SN16.
The Nacionalista Party is part of the administration coalition.
'Don’t drag Roxas into mess'
Meanwhile, Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Treñas — LP’s whip for Visayas — said Bautista should just convince Binay to answer the allegations of corruption against him instead of attacking the ruling party.
“I think that the camp of VP Binay should stop the finger-pointing and stop diverting the issue. Dragging the name of Secretary Roxas into his mess will not help him explain the allegations of massive corruption being thrown against him,” he said.
Treñas said UNA should stop dragging Roxas into the feud between Binay and Mercado because he is not involved in the issue.
“[C]learly, the allegations against Binay were made by an angry and disgruntled former political sidekick who obviously knows a lot of his secrets and now wants to get even,” he said. — JDS, GMA News