Binay probe to help senators improve anti-graft laws - Drilon | Inquirer News

Binay probe to help senators improve anti-graft laws – Drilon

/ 08:36 PM October 05, 2014
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Senate President Franklin Drilon. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/ JOAN BONDOC

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Franklin Drilon said the hearings on the allegedly overpriced P2.3-billion Makati City Hall parking building were not intended to gather evidence for a criminal case, but were a search for the truth and a way to help senators improve laws.

Drilon noted that the Binay camp apparently could not dispute the statements of resource persons at the hearings.

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“Maybe Mayor [Junjun] Binay and the Binay camp are having a difficult time with the witnesses coming out, but I would like to emphasize that this investigation we’re doing is in aid of legislation. It’s not the intention of the blue ribbon committee to look for evidence for a criminal case,” Drilon on said on Sunday in a radio interview.

Resource persons are invited to the hearings so senators could know the shortcomings of the present anti-graft law and why certain practices have taken place, if they indeed took place, according to the Senate President.

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“On the other hand, this is also a search for the truth,” he said.

Responding to claims by the Binay camp, Drilon said that the Senate had been following its own rules.

He said it would be the decision of the entire blue ribbon committee, not just the subcommittee, whether to cite someone for contempt.

As for stopping the hearings pending the jurisdictional challenge from the Binay camp, Drilon said the subcommittee already made a decision to continue the probe. It was not within his power as Senate President to stop an inquiry, he added.

But Sen. Nancy Binay, speaking over dzBB, said the entire blue ribbon committee, and not just its chair, should decide on the jurisdictional challenge brought by her brother.

Senator Binay, a member of the committee, said blue ribbon committee chair Teofisto Guingona III should not rely on his lawyers alone in deciding on the matter.

“I think Senator Guingona should convene the blue ribbon committee to take up the jurisdictional challenge,” she said.

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She earlier inhibited herself from the subcommittee hearings on the issue involving her father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, and brother.

Drilon also said that questions that senators were asking during the hearings could not be controlled. Resource persons who would not want answer questions could always invoke their right to protect themselves from self-incrimination, he added.

Drilon said he had not threatened Mayor Binay by saying the latter could be arrested if he failed to explain his failure to heed the subcommittee’s subpoena.

He said he was just explaining the process followed in the Senate. If persons subpoenaed have no valid reason for failing to heed the summons, they could be cited for contempt because their absence prevents the Senate from doing its job.

The Liberal Party also has no hand in the investigation, according to Drilon, pointing out that it was initiated by a resolution from Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a member of the Nacionalista Party.

Spokespersons for the Binays have called the hearings a political circus intended to bring down the Vice President, a contender in the 2016 presidential election.

But Trillanes said the Binay camp has been unable to refute the allegations against it point by point.

“All they’re saying is that it’s politically motivated. That’s it. They never addressed any issue. They only held press conferences and these backfired. The public is still waiting for their explanation on a point by point basis,” he said.

Trillanes said the Binay camp’s plan, after exhausting remedies at the Senate to stop the hearing, would be to elevate the matter to the Supreme Court.

But the senator did not see the plan succeeding because of the system of checks and balances.

He also explained that the inquiry into the Makati City Hall parking building had necessitated many hearings because of the sheer volume of documentary evidence and information coming from resource persons.

He said former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado alone had a lot of relevant information. Mercado used to be a close associate of the Vice President, a former mayor of Makati, before they had a falling out over political plans.

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TAGS: congressional inquiry, Franklin Drilon, Graft and Corruption, Jejomar Binay, Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay, legislative inquiry, Local authorities, Local Governments, Makati City, Makati City parking building, mayor, News, overpricing, Philippine Congress, Philippine vice president, Plunder, rigged bidding, Senate
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