Binay refuses to answer ‘dummies’ raps, slams Cayetano
LUMBAN, Laguna—Vice President Jejomar Binay refused to answer the allegations that he had used “dummies” to corner government contracts and conceal the assets that he had acquired when he was still the mayor of Makati City.
Binay instead lashed out at Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, one of the senators taking the lead in the Senate inquiry into the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.
The Vice President, who was on a visit to Laguna province on Friday, was evasive when asked by reporters about new testimony that has emerged in the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearings into the allegedly graft-ridden P2.3-billion Makati parking building.
However, in an ambush interview, Binay said he wanted to correct what he deemed to be an erroneous point that Cayetano made about the evidence being presented at the Senate probe.
Binay said that Cayetano appeared to be lecturing and correcting him concerning what Binay had said about the testimony in the Senate hearings not being accepted as testimonial evidence in court.
“The evidence I was talking about, if you look at the speech of Justice (Reynato) Puno in 2012, (he said that) an allegation without cross-examination is not evidence (but) mere allegation,” Binay said in a mixture of English and Filipino.
Asked about businessman Jose Orillaza’s claim at last Thursday’s hearing that he had fronted as a dummy for Binay in a company that won contracts in Makati when Binay was the mayor, the Vice President said: “I wish they would define first what they mean by dummies.”
As for Cayetano’s challenge that he waive bank secrecy rights and submit to a lifestyle check, Binay threw back the challenge at the senator: “Ask Cayetano this, does he not have dummies?”
Binay declined the subcommittee’s invitation to attend the hearing last Thursday, going instead to Balut, Tondo, to distribute government housing units.
His son, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr., also snubbed the Senate inquiry and questioned the subcommittee’s jurisdictional authority to conduct the probe.
In Laguna province on Friday, Binay visited the towns of Pangil, Paete and Lumban and presided over the turnover of medical equipment and inauguration of hospital facilities.
He was accompanied by the dismissed Laguna governor, Jorge “ER” Ejercito, who was removed for violating campaign spending laws. Ejercito is a nephew of deposed President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, a Binay ally.
Binay, who chairs the presidential task force against illegal recruitment, also addressed a multi-agency workshop here on trafficking and illegal recruitment.
‘Flavor of the month’
He began his remarks by saying that he was “the flavor of the month,” referring to the corruption charges against him, but did address the issue in his speech.
In a phone interview, lawyer JV Bautista, one of Binay’s spokespersons, explained Binay’s comments on why testimony presented at the Senate hearing constituted “weak evidence.”
“In court, there is a right to cross-examine to test the credibility of a witness. You don’t have that in the Senate hearing. The witnesses obviously merely have axes to grind,” he said.
Bautista serves as Binay’s spokesperson while Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, Binay’s main spokesperson, is away in New York City.
“It doesn’t mean that when a statement is made under oath, it is automatically admissible and credible,” Bautista said.
Incredible, not believable
The lawyer said the testimonies of Orillaza and the other witnesses in the Senate hearings were “incredible, not believable.”
Bautista also accused Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV of not just lawyering for the witnesses but also testifying for them.
“He was clearly testifying for them. Look at his leading questions. Those were the questions that the witnesses can just easily answer with a ‘yes,’” he said.
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