Binay Jr. told: Show up or else…
MANILA, Philippines–Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. and six others could avoid a contempt citation from the Senate if they show remorse for their absences and attend the hearing of the blue ribbon subcommittee Thursday on alleged irregularities in the city, senators said on Wednesday.
If they still fail to show up or to commit to doing so, the blue ribbon committee would vote on Monday on whether to cite them for contempt and what penalty they would face.
At least two votes, if these constitute the majority of those present, would be enough for the citation to be given and for penalty to be imposed, according to committee chair Sen. Teofisto Guingona III.
Guingona also said the penalty that could be imposed was arrest, and this would also be subject to a vote. All these are in line with Senate rules, he added.
Subcommittee chair Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said he would withdraw his recommendation to cite Binay and the six others for contempt if they would be present in Thursday’s hearing. He would also look favorably on a commitment to attend future hearings, he added.
“For as long as you show respect and remorse and repentance that you made a mistake in snubbing the subpoena and you appear, even the courts forgive,” Pimentel told reporters.
“If they voluntarily appear, I will move for the withdrawal of my recommendation to cite them for contempt,” he said.
Enough to erase
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV also said the presence of the Makati officials at Thursday’s hearing could be enough to erase the impending penalty.
Aside from Binay, those recommended to be cited for contempt are University of Makati president Tomas Lopez; Makati Administrator Eleno Mendoza; former Makati Administrator Marjorie de Veyra; Makati Assistant City Engineer Line de la Peña; Bernadette Portollano, allegedly one of the owners of Omni Security Investigation and General Services; and Eduviges Baloloy, supposedly the personal secretary of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
According to Pimentel, the power to cite a person for contempt was something that institutions want to use sparingly. “Nobody wants to cite anybody for contempt, but if it’s necessary we will do it.”
The senator said he had to make the recommendation for the contempt citation because of the resource persons’ repeated instances when they snubbed the subcommittee’s subpoenas, which put the Senate in peril. They ignored at least five subpoenas, he said.
“Otherwise, it’s the power of the entire Senate to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation which is at stake, not only of the Senate but the future Senates,” Pimentel added.
In explaining his absence at the hearings, Mayor Junjun Binay cited his jurisdictional challenge to the subcommittee, whose inquiry he said was no longer in aid of legislation. He also cited his request to be furnished advanced copies of the questions the subcommittee would ask him, which Pimentel had rejected.
The other resource persons gave similar reasons for their absence.
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