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Trillanes: New case vs Binay to emerge as Senate body resumes probe in January

/ 07:20 PM December 28, 2014
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Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Vice President Jejomar Binay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

MANILA, Philippines—After a holiday hiatus, the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee will resume in January 2015 its inquiry into the alleged anomalies in Makati City during the mayoral term of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

A new issue will also be raised against Binay, according to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

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The next hearing has been scheduled for January 22, the second day after the resumption of Congress sessions, subcommittee chair Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III confirmed in a text message on Sunday.

The session was originally scheduled for January 19, but the Senate later moved it to give way to the papal visit. January 15, 16 and 19 were declared special nonworking days in view of Pope Francis’ visit in Metro Manila. The Pope leaves for Rome on January 19.

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Trillanes, speaking on dzBB, said the subcommittee hearing would present a new witness to testify on a new issue, but declined to provide further details.

“We will present new evidence, so the people can see a new angle of the corruption that Vice President Binay had committed,” he said in the dzBB interview.

Trillanes said there would be another four to five hearings on the Makati City issues, which would run until April or May.

The senator said he would not be surprised if Binay would withdraw from the presidential race later in 2015.

“I am not discounting the possibility that he would back out because it would not be the first time he would do such a thing,” he said. “Even if he says he would push through with his plans—I’ve heard that before—I am not holding on to his word.”

Binay earlier backed out of a public debate with Trillanes that the Vice President himself had called, prompting the senator to disclose that Binay had also supposedly reneged on his word to provide support to Magdalo soldiers when they staged a second attempt to overthrow the Aquino administration in 2007, which has become known as the Manila Peninsula siege.

Binay continues to be on top of surveys on voters’ preference for president, although his numbers have lately declined.

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The drop in approval ratings followed the conduct of the Senate subcommittee hearings, which had heard allegations from witnesses that Binay received kickbacks from Makati’s infrastructure projects when he was its mayor and used dummies to hide his ill-gotten wealth, including a vast Batangas estate and condominium units.

Binay and his spokespersons have denied the allegations and have branded as “a farce” the Senate hearings being conducted by political rivals. He said those were just intended to bring down his high ratings in surveys.

Commenting on Binay’s ratings, Trillanes surmised that the Vice President has been able to stay on top because the issues over his alleged corruption have not yet come to the attention of most people, who have always been more concerned with their day-to-day problems.

Trillanes said he would not stop the probe so that eventually, people would see Binay’s true colors and think twice about voting him for president in the 2016 elections.

He also said his original intention in calling for the hearing has been to find the truth about the Makati City car park building project, but other issues had turned up in the process.

“If you’re running for higher office, people have to see what you’re made of so that people would not be fooled,” he said.

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