MANILA, Philippines—One of President Aquino’s handpicked candidates wants one of his Cabinet members to explain why the wife of Vice President Jejomar Binay, one of the three leaders of the United Nationalist Alliance, was allowed to leave the country despite a hold-departure order on her.
Former Sen. Jamby Madrigal, a member of the administration coalition Team PNoy, questioned Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s authority to allow Dr. Elenita Binay to leave when it was the Sandiganbayan who has the sole authority to lift such orders.
Binay is facing graft charges at the Sandiganbayan.
“Only the Sandiganbayan has the authority to lift a hold-departure order on a respondent in a graft case. Perhaps, Secretary De Lima should explain whether she exceeded her authority when she got herself involved in a judicial matter overruling a hold-departure order of the Sandiganbayan,” Madrigal said in a statement.
The Binays recently left the country to attend the inauguration of Pope Francis in the Vatican. Elenita was initially prevented by immigration officers from boarding her flight but was eventually allowed to leave.
The incident prompted the couple’s daughter and UNA senatorial candidate Nancy Binay to cry political harassment. Aside from being the Binays’ eldest child, Nancy Binay is also the former chief of staff of the Vice President.
Madrigal said Nancy Binay shouldn’t expect “special treatment and privileges for her mother, just because she is the wife of the Vice President.”
“No one is above the law. For one who wants to become a lawmaker, she should be the last to say that. Just because she is the wife of the Vice President, why should she be given special privileges? This smacks of elitism on the part of Nancy Binay,” Madrigal said.
“The immigration people are just implementing the law. Mrs. Binay has pending graft cases from alleged bidding anomalies in the purchase of fixtures and furniture for the Makati City hall during her term as Makati mayor. How can Nancy say it’s harassment?” Madrigal asked.
Madrigal, who has yet to break into the Magic 12, has taken on the Vice President previously during the campaign period, indicating that Binay’s presidential ambition was an improbable dream.