VICE President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday labelled the Senate probe on his alleged corruption and ill-gotten wealth as an ‘inquisition’ and an ‘abuse of parliamentary rules.
At the same time, Binay urged Filipinos to take a closer look at the ongoing probe, which he said is being conducted by politicians who consider him (Binay) a threat to their own political ambitions.
Binay issued the statement a day after the release of a Social Weather Station survery showing that 79% of its respondents want him to appear before the Senate panel looking into his alleged corrupt practices when he was mayor of Makati City.
“I ask our people to examine closely the direction the so-called investigation is taking. So far, they have resorted to humiliating me and my family with such viciousness I have not seen employed by the Senate before,” Binay said.
Binay also cast doubts on the true intent of the investigation.
“First, the so-called legislative agenda of that investigation has been unmasked as simply an inquisition designed to bring disrepute to my person by the abuse of parliamentary rules,” said Binay, a consistent frontrunner in all presidential preference surveys shortly before the probe began.
“Those investigating me are simply there because as they admitted they do not want me to even launch a presidential campaign, obviously fearing that should the people support me they would be made accountable for their misdeeds and abuse of power.”
Binay was obviously referring to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV who had said he wanted to run for president in 2016 and urged people not to vote for Binay in 2016 because of the supposed revelations of the Vice President’s corruption at the Senate subcommittee hearing.
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, also a member of the subcommitte, has also expressed his desire to run for the presidency in 2016.
While Binay did not refer to Trillanes and Cayetano by name, he said “they themselves want to be in power and see me as a threat to that ambition.”
“The legislative character of the investigation is brazenly replaced by a route of inquiry that is judicial in nature but masquerading as ‘in aid of legislation’,” Binay said.
“If there are serious accusations being peddled by my enemies, the truth could be proven in a way that civilized societies do–with hard, unassailable evidence,” he said.
Binay said the Senate investigation also showed that civil rights could become the first casualty in politics.
“The so-called investigation at the Senate sends a dire warning to everyone: that for the sake of politics, civil rights are the first casualty,” he said.
“I pity the ordinary government employees and citizens who are being hammered, the effect on their daily affairs, the scorn and ridicule they are being subjected to that no private individual should suffer in a democratic society,” he said.
In a live interview on ANC’s Beyond Politics program, the Vice President reiterated that he doesn’t see any reason to attend the probe since the senators conducting the inquiry have already gone out of their way to prejudge and humiliate him.
“Yung ibang senador prejudged na, hinatulan ka na. Linalait ka pa, tinatakot ka pa, kinukutya ka pa. At saka ano pa ba ang itatanong? Nasabi na lahat ang itatanong e. Sumosobra na nga duon sa pinakapakay nung - imbestigasyon ba yun?” he said.
(Those senators have already prejudged me. They insulted me, threatened me. What else would they want to know? They have gone beyond....is that an investigation?)
Binay also challenged his accusers to present hard evidence that would back up their claims that he pocketed millions of pesos in kickbacks for various infrastructure projects in Makati when he was still mayor.
“So far, they have resorted to humiliating me and my family with such viciousness I have not seen employed by the Senate before,” he said.
Binay has rejected the claims of overpricing of the Makati car park building, saying the building construction had passed audits conducted by a government audit team. He said he is ready to answer the allegations before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Binay’s daughter, Senator Nancy Binay, also came to her father’s defense, describing the probe was one-sided and has become a ‘lowbrow jury concentrating on “loose talks.”
She insisted that accusations being hurled against her father and his brother Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, were ‘all lies’ being peddled by her family’s local political opponents in connivance with forces out to frustrate his presidential bid.
The senator added that it was obvious that the testimonies given by witnesses in the Blue Ribbon subcommittee were “false, baseless and unfounded,” that will not stand scrutiny in court.
“The way the hearings are conducted, It has ceased to be an independent and non-partisan panel,” she said.
The same committee also recommended the filing of plunder and graft charges against Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla over the pork barrel scam.
Binay also condemned the seemingly unequal treatment the Blue Ribbon committee gives to cases being heard.
“Why do they easily accede to the request of their alies?” asked Binay, referring to senators identified with the administration.
The subcommittee continues its hearing today, wherein businessman Antonio Tiu, the alleged dummy of Binay in his Batangas property will appear to prove his ownership of the questionable agricultural estate.
As this developed, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she there was no conflict with the pronouncement of President Aquino that the investigation being conducted by the Justice Department on allegations of corruption against the Vice President is being done to complement the one being conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman.
De Lima explained that from the very start, the DoJ had known that the bulk of the investigation would be conducted by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
“There is no problem with the pronouncement made by the Presidente that our investigation is only in support of the Ombudsman’s probe,” De Lima said.
According to her, their role is simply to gather information and evidence that they would turn over to the anti-graft body, which would determine what to do with the evidence submitted.
She added that she had already informed the Ombudsman of her decision to help in the probe on the Vice President.
Earlier, De Lima said any evidence that the National Bureau of Investigation would gather during the probe would be submitted to the Ombudsman without recommendation unlike in previous cases such as in the P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund scam where it recommended the filing of plunder and graft charges against several senators, congressmen and other government officials as well as the scam’s mastermind, Janet Lim Napoles and officials of her various non-government organizations that were allegedly used as conduit for the lawmaker’s pork barrel allocations.
She said the NBI probe would be devoid of any media mileage.
The NBI last Friday said it has already formed two teams to spearhead the probe on the allegations against Binay.
Aquino on Monday said any investigation conducted by the DOJ would only be in support of the Ombudsman’s effort.
Binay has criticized the DOJ’s move saying de Lima is practicing “selective justice” targeting members of the opposition.
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