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MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile challenged the testimonies of two critics of Vice President Jejomar Binay at the last public hearing on corruption allegations against the United Nationalist Alliance standard-bearer.
Lawyer Renato Bondal, who filed a plunder complaint against Binay over the alleged overpricing of the Makati city hall parking building II, summarized witnesses’ testimonies in the past 24 hearings before the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee on Tuesday, January 26. (READ: After Senate probe, Binay no longer ‘king-in-waiting’ – Trillanes)
In his presentation, Bondal said Binay’s net worth grew by “2,300%,” or from P2 million in 1986 when Binay became Makati mayor, to more than P60 million in 2014 based on the Vice President’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN). (READ: From P2.5M to P60M: How VP Binay amassed his wealth)
Source of information
Enrile on Tuesday, however, pressed Bondal where he got the information.
“AMLC ba ang nagbigay sa ’yo ng impormasyon na ‘yan (Did AMLC give you the information)?” Enrile asked Bondal.
Bondal replied he read about the case in a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The newspaper, along with Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and several lawmakers and witnesses, is facing a damage suit filed by the Vice President.
Enrile was not convinced, saying, “You are just quoting a second party as a basis of your explanation.”
Bondal replied, “But it proves our point na nagkaroon talaga ng malaking nakawan sa Makati (that there was widespread stealing in Makati).”
Enrile was also skeptical of Bondal’s claims on Binay’s net worth. He inquired if the value of Binay’s properties cited was at cost or fair market value, and if Bondal considered the fluctuating exchange rate of the peso against the US dollar.
“Kaya pinapaliwanag ko sa’yo na medyo misleading ang figures na ‘yan (That’s why I’m explaining to you that the figures are misleading),” Enrile told Bondal, who replied he was only quoting from Binay’s SALNs.
Senate blue ribbon subcommittee chairperson Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III then reminded Enrile that the copies of the SALN forms in the subcommittee’s possession provide the value of properties at acquisition cost.
Enrile also questioned the claims of former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado that Limlingan and Baloloy were Binay’s “bagmen.”
It was the first and last time Enrile attended the hearing as he was detained for plunder charges in connection with the pork barrel scam when the probe began in August 2014. Enrile was only released on bail in August 2015.
The House minority leader left the hearing after an hour, when Pimentel called for a quick break. Enrile refused to answer questions from the media.
“Wala akong sasabihin. No word. I’m going to study my Mamasapano….Kaya nga uuwi ako’t pag-aralan ko pa,” said the senator, referring to his participation in the re-opening of the Senate probe into the bloody police operation set for Wednesday.
(I’m not going to say anything. No word. I’m going to study my Mamasapano.… That’s why I’m going home so I can study it further.)
Enrile ‘fair, objective’
Subcommittee member Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said he found Enrile’s interjections as “valid.”
“I don’t think it affected even the flow of presentation ni Atty Bondal, so those are valid interjections of a member of the committee. Hindi naman [biased] (It wasn’t biased). People may say that but I think generally fair naman and objective naman ‘yung queries,” said Trillanes, a staunch Binay critic who leveled a new allegation against the Vice President over his television advertisement about the Senate probe.
Trillanes said the Senate panel welcomed Enrile’s participation because through him, the Senate minority and even the political opposition were represented.
“It was a healthy exercise of the democratic processes,” said Trillanes, who expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the 25 hearings.
Asked by reporters, Trillanes added that he does not think Enrile was lawyering for Binay during the hearing.
“Nakita ko, that’s pretty tame kung standard ni Senator Enrile ang pinag-uusapan. Wala akong nakitang anything beyond the normal,” he said.
(I saw that it was pretty tame if we are going to consider the standard of Senator Enrile. I didn’t see anything beyond the normal.) – Rappler.com