Final call out for Binay son
Sen. Teofisto Guingona III on Friday issued what he said was a “final call” to Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. and six others to appear before a Senate inquiry into corruption in Makati City, or the blue ribbon committee would be compelled to order their arrest and detention.
Guingona, who chairs the blue ribbon committee, urged Binay and the six—former and current officials of the Makati government and one private person—to heed the summons of the blue ribbon subcommittee which is conducting an investigation into allegedly corrupt deals in the Makati government and corruption and ill-gotten wealth charges against Vice President Jejomar Binay, the father of the Makati mayor who had preceded him in that office.
“I make this final call as an effort on my part to avert a situation where the Senate blue ribbon committee would have to issue an arrest order for Mayor Binay and other officials concerned,” Guingona said in a statement.
After testifying once, the mayor skipped the 13 subsequent hearings in the investigation that initially focused on the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II but has now expanded to include the allegedly corrupt practices and ill-gotten assets of the Vice President and his family.
The mayor and six others have ignored at least five subpoenas from the subcommittee, prompting Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, the subcommittee chair who is leading the probe, to recommend that Guingona cite them in contempt.
Guingona reminded Binay and the six others that there were rules that govern the continued refusal of resource persons to attend hearings.
Facing arrest and detention
“The committee cannot and will not tolerate the refusal of such parties to obey its summons. Let it be clear that it is within the power of the committee to order their arrest and detention,” he said.
Guingona said he would meet with the committee members on Monday to decide what to do next. He said he hoped that by that time, the younger Binay “would have taken the prudent step” of heeding the summons.
“This is a final call. I express the hope that the sound counsel of friends and colleagues would encourage Mayor Binay and other parties concerned to heed the summons of the subcommittee,” he said.
The senator said that as the committee chair, he was bound by sworn duties “to protect the interest of the public and the processes of the Senate.”
“The exercise of the power to issue an arrest order is part of that protection,” he said.
Conditions for appearance
The younger Binay has questioned the jurisdiction of the subcommittee, arguing that the Office of the Ombudsman has primary jurisdiction of the plunder complaints filed against him and his father over the allegedly overpriced car park building.
Also recommended to be cited in contempt were University of Makati president Tomas Lopez; city administrator Eleno Mendoza; former city administrator Marjorie de Veyra; assistant city engineer Line de la Peña; Bernadette Portollano, alleged to be one of the owners of Omni Security Investigation and General Services; and Eduviges Baloloy, reportedly the personal secretary of the Vice President.
As a condition for their appearance, the younger Binay had requested that they be furnished an advance copy of the questions, invoking the Supreme Court ruling on the case of former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri allowing resource persons appearing in the Senate to be shown the questions in advance.
Pimentel rejected the request, saying it lacked basis, as the mayor’s case, unlike Neri’s, did not involve executive privilege.
‘To humiliate me’
In the face of Guingona’s threat of arrest and detention, the younger Binay on Friday appealed for fairness from the subcommittee conducting the investigation.
“With all due respect to the Senate, all I am asking for is due process. If you may recall, I appeared before the subcommittee and answered the questions from the senators for six hours. However, I was either cut off or denied the chance to reply. The senators simply wanted to humiliate me,” the mayor said in a statement.
The younger Binay also questioned the “unfair treatment” of city officials who attended the hearings, claiming that some witnesses who were caught lying under oath were not punished.
“All I am requesting is for the senators in the subcommittee to accord to all persons summoned to their hearings their rights based on the Constitution and jurisprudence. While the senators threaten me with contempt, they have not taken any action to discipline their witnesses who have lied under oath several times. This is most unfair,” he said.
The mayor also said that during his first and only appearance, he hoped that the senators “would show a sense of proper decorum befitting the Senate as an institution” but in the course of the hearing, it became apparent that the proceedings were “not in the pursuit of truth but rather in furtherance of personal agenda.”
“Worse, the senators have prejudged me and my family,” he said. With a report from Maricar B. Brizuela
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