Binay should face Senate, answer corruption allegations—Miriam Santiago
MANILA, Philippines — If Vice President Jejomar Binay is not guilty, then he should face the Senate and answer all the issues raised against him, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Friday.
In a speech before the annual national convention of the Philippine Association of Real Estate Boards, Inc. held in Alabang, Muntinlupa, Santiago hit the Vice President for his refusal to accept the invitation of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee investigating the allegedly overpriced parking building in Makati City.
The committee’s investigation has expanded on Binay and his family’s alleged unexplained wealth.
“Ang sabi lang ng Vice President, ‘hindi ako pupunta,’ walang katotohanan ‘yung sinasabi laban sa kanya. Ganun’ ba ang attitude ng tao na nasiraan? Kapag siniraan ka ng tao hindi ba gusto mo suntukin mo na kagaad? Susugurin mo na at saka ibibigkas mo na sa buong daigdig kung ano talaga ang katotohanan?” Santiago asked.
(The Vice President said, ‘I won’t go,’ and that there’s no truth to the allegations against him. Is that the attitude of an accused? If you are being maligned, don’t you want to hit your critics right away? Don’t you want to face the issue and tell the whole world your version of the truth.)
“Bakit ayaw mong lumabas ‘yun doon? Anong rason n’ya? Dahil hindi naman n’ya kailangang matakot na bastusin s’ya…The Constitution provides that persons who are called to testify in congressional hearings have rights which have to be respected by the legislators,” she said.
(Why doesn’t he want to appear in the Senate? What is his reason? He doesn’t have to be wary that he would be shamed… The Constitution provides that persons who are called to testify in congressional hearings have rights which have to be respected by the legislators.)
Speaking to reporters after her speech, the senator said the burden of appearing in the Senate hearing now shifted to the Vice President after his accuser and former ally, ex-Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, accused him of receiving kickbacks and using dummies to hide his corporations and other properties.
“That’s right, that’s right,” Santiago said when asked if Binay should face the Senate probe, “That’s the normal reaction of an innocent person.”
She said Binay could not simply dismiss the allegations as mere lies, since his accuser presented hard evidence during the hearing such as videos and photos of his alleged 350-hectare agricultural estate in Batangas.
“The moment the prosecution or a probable witness for the prosecution begins to present hard evidence then the burden of evidence is now on the other party. That’s why the Vice President has the burden of appearing in the Senate hearing and present his evidence,” Santiago said.
But Binay had already declined the invitation, saying he would not be a party to a “moro-moro” (show) and politically-motivated investigation in the Senate. He also repeatedly denied all the allegations hurled at him.
Asked what the implication of the Vice President’s refusal to face the Senate probe was, the senator said: “Well, I’m afraid it would imply guilt.”
She said Binay may not choose the forum that he would like to address the issues like the Office of the Ombudsman where a complaint was filed against him in connection with the overpriced parking building.
“He does not have that choice, we operate under the rule of law,” Santiago said.
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