Time running out for Binay associates to turn state witnesses — Cayetano
The close associates of Vice President Jejomar Binay could still turn state witness, but the time to do so is fast running out, according to Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Cayetano noted that it would not be the first time that an alleged cohort has been offered immunity from suit in exchange for telling all.
So, the likes of Gerry Limlingan, allegedly Binay’s financial adviser, with whom he has been sharing multi-million peso bank accounts, could become whistleblowers and testify for the state, he said.
“The offer is there. We have to solve corruption in our country and we have to be fair. If we accepted Benhur Luy, if we accepted [Rodolfo] Jun Lozada, if we accepted the testimony of Governor [Chavit] Singson in the case against [Joseph Estrada] why would we not accept that of Gerry Limlingan?” he told reporters.
Luy was the whistleblower in the pork barrel scam case, having been an employee of the scheme’s alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Lozada spilled the beans on the alleged overprice of the government’s National Broadband Network deal with the ZTE Corp. of China, having been involved in the project as a consultant.
Singson was Estrada’s friend who testified that the latter received kickbacks from the tobacco excise tax and jueteng bribes.
But as authorities gather strong evidence against Binay, the need for new state witnesses diminishes, according to Cayetano.
“The problem is the door is closing because as the evidence gets stronger, and it is clearly seen in the anti-money laundering report, the necessity for a state witness gets is reduced. For you to be a state witness, you must be needed,” he said.
Earlier, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV also said Binay’s associates and alleged dummies could be made state witnesses, but they would have to convince the Senate and the people on the truth in their testimonies.
Limlingan is one of 14 Binay associates ordered arrested earlier this week for snubbing hearings of the Blue Ribbon subcommittee on alleged anomalies involving Binay.
The others are Vissia Marie Aldon, Danilo Villas, Aida Alcantara, Hirene Lopez, Irene Chong, Imee Chong, Kim Tung Chong, Iris Chong, Erlinda Chong, Kimsfer Chong, Anne Lorraine Buencamino-Tiu, and brothers James and Antonio Tiu.
There are also standing warrants issued much earlier against three other Binay associates, consisting of his personal secretary Eduviges Baloloy, Makati engineer Line Dela Pena, and Bernadette Portollano.
On Wednesday, the arrest orders of Antonio Tiu, Villas, Dela Pena, and Aldon were suspended after they filed motions for reconsideration and promised to attend the next subcommittee.
The other Binay associates have also not been found and arrested.
Cayetano said the Senate would offer protection to Binay’s associates being sought by the Senate, should they need it.
“We will offer protection if they’re under threat because they will be key witnesses. There can only be two things: they will tell the truth and all will be revealed, or they will lie but they would still be found out because the evidence is there,” he said.
He also wondered why Limlingan, if he was really a legitimate businessman as some said, was not surfacing.
People could not be blamed for thinking that the Binay camp has been hiding the resource persons, because it would have the most to gain by their absence, he added.
Cayetano also disputed the Binay camp’s contention that the Senate was bullying the resource persons by ordering their arrest.
“There’s no bullying here, we’re just following the law. The problem is they have been clearly caught, the evidence is very clear, and they can’t explain these,” he said.
He pointed out that Binay, during the time of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, had called on those implicated in corruption issues to respond to charges against them, but now he himself was refusing to do the same thing.
He also asked the Binay camp why it was speaking for Limlingan.
“How will we trust leaders, whether business leaders, or government, national leaders, if they don’t face charges or explain?” he added. SFM/ABC