Arrest order sought vs 17 people tied to VP Binay
Seventeen people who failed to show up in the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearings on the expanded inquiry into corruption allegations against Vice President Jejomar Binay since he was mayor of Makati City face arrest after they were cited for contempt.
Among those facing arrest were Binay’s financial adviser Gerry Limlingan and his longtime secretary Ebeng Baloloy who were found to have joint bank accounts with the Vice President that were recently ordered frozen by the Court of Appeals on suspicion these were involved in illegal activities.
At press time on Monday, Senate President Franklin Drilon had yet to approve the recommendation for their arrest by the Senate blue ribbon committee chair, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III.
“I will have to see the recommendation first,” Drilon told reporters.
“The action of the committee to cite an individual/group of persons for contempt does not require the approval of the Senate President,” Drilon’s office said. “However, when the committee orders the issuance of the arrest and/or the detention order, the approval of the Senate resident would be needed or would become necessary.”
Guingona on Monday met with Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, the subcommittee chair, to discuss the panel’s recommendation to cite for contempt 17 people who had snubbed its hearings.
They were Limlingan, Baloloy, Tomas Lopez, Antonio Tiu, Vissia Marie Aldon, Danilo Villas, Aida Alcantara, Mario Badillo, Hirene Lopez, Irene Chong, Imee Chong, Kim Tun Chong, Iris Chong, Erlinda Chong, Kimsfer Chong, Anne Lorraine Buencamino-Tiu and James Tiu.
But during the meeting, Pimentel asked Guingona not to include Tomas Lopez, president of the University of Makati, who attended the hearing of the subcommittee on May 8, and Badillo who wrote the subcommittee on MONday that he would attend the next hearing set on May 28.
Ordered arrested earlier were engineer Line de la Peña, Bernadette Portallano and Baloloy.
The Senate sergeant at arms could arrest the 17 persons once the arrest orders are approved by Drilon, Pimentel said. They are to be detained in the Senate or alternative venues.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday said the National Bureau of Investigation would join the hunt for those ordered arrested.
“The assistance originally requested from the NBI was to trace their whereabouts so the NBI tried to find out their known addresses and other possible addresses. But it’s up to that (extent) only. They could not apprehend them or even summon them because there was still no case against them. So the most they could do is just to try to monitor and locate their whereabouts,” she said.
De Lima, however, said the NBI agents did not see “eye to eye” regarding Limlingan, Baloloy and other personalities sought by the Senate.
“They never saw these personalities, meaning they have not seen even their shadows. They found their addresses, but the warm bodies of their personalities, they did not see them so far,” she said.
The justice secretary, citing records from the Bureau of Immigration, said both Limlingan and Baloloy were still in the country since there were no records of their departure.–With a report from Jerome Aning
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