MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Vice President Jejomar Binay has accepted the challenge of Senator Antonio Trillanies IV to personally confront corruption allegations against him and his family, his spokesman said on Wednesday, October 22.
Binay’s spokesman, Cavite Governor Juanito Victor Remulla, told Rappler that the Vice President is more than willing to enter into a verbal tussle with Trillanes but on one condition: it has to happen before an “impartial body” and “not moderated by the rules of the Senate.”
“We are going to challenge Trillanes to a debate in any channel of his choosing moderated by the deans of both the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo College of Law,” Remulla told Rappler. The Vice President made the same announcement on Tuesday at a Pag-IBIG fund event.
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Trillanes readily accepted the challenge.
“Name the time and the place,” the senator said on Wednesday.
Binay is the subject of a Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee investigation into the alleged overpriced Makati City parking building. The inquiry stemmed from plunder raps against the Vice President and his son, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr, over the same building.
The subcommittee, chaired by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, has invited Binay to attend the public hearings but the Vice President has refused to appear before the subcommittee, saying he would not subject himself and his office to a “kangaroo court.”
Outside the Senate, Trillanes will not be subject to immunity, noted Remulla. “He will be forced to back up his allegations with documents. They better back up their assertions,” the governor added.
Although the Makati City Hall Building 2 is the supposed subject of the Senate probe, the subcommittee has turned into a forum where Binay’s former allies and political foes have hurled one accusation after another against the Vice President.
Binay has denied the allegations against him, dismissing the probe as politically motivated.
Trillanes, in media interviews, has vowed to prove that Binay owns the vast Batangas property through businessman Antonio Tiu.
Remulla said they have not spoken to Trillanes himself and don’t plan to and would, instead, issue the “challenge” to a debate through media.
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, another senator who is spearheading the probe, is also welcome to join the debate.
The “challenge” from the Binay camp comes as the Senate resumes hearings on the issue. Both Trillanes and Cayetano earlier had said that they will produce documents to prove Binay used dummies. – Rappler.com