'Binay will overcome' – Erap
MANILA, Philippines – As senators allied with the administration prepared to resume on Wednesday, October 22, the hearings on alleged anomalous transactions and undeclared wealth of Vice President Jejomar Binay, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, reaffirmed his support for his ally.
“I believe that the Vice President will overcome all these demolition thing that the senators are doing,” said Estrada, who cut the ribbon at a business event at the Manila Hotel where Binay was scheduled to speak.
Speaking to reporters before the Vice President arrived, Estrada said Binay was right not to appear before the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee because, Estrada agreed, what was being conducted was “an investigation in aid of personal ambition.”
The subcommittee, which conducted its 10th hearing on Wednesday, originally set to investigate the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building II, whose construction started when Binay was mayor of Makati and was completed when his son, Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr, had succeeded him. It was prompted by a plunder complaint filed before the Ombudsman against the Binays by members of the political opposition in Makati.
The Senate investigation has since branched out into other alleged anomalous contracts in the city government from which the Binays supposedly earned, and an allegedly undeclared property in Batangas province that Binay supposedly owns through dummies.
The subcommittee is led by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, a former party mate of Binay who broke ranks with him, while the questioning of witnesses is being done by senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano, who have both declared their intentions to seek higher office in 2016, most likely running against Binay.
"There's a proper forum to face all those charges against the Vice President," said Estrada, who picked Binay was his running mate in 2010 when he run for president a second time.
A recent survey showed that nearly 8 out of 10 Filipinos want Binay to attend the hearing.
Still, Estrada pointed out, "Even if they have done that, the Vice President is still on top of everybody."
Estrada was referring to surveys that show Binay, despite drops in his latest ratings, is still the top choice of voters among possible presidential contenders, and is the most trusted government official.
Binay: I brought attacks upon myself
In his speech at the 40th Philippine Business Conference and Expo, Binay said the strings of allegations hurled at him were a consequence of his early declaration of his intention to seek the presidency in 2016.
He said his oft-repeated line that the allegations against him and his family were politically motivated and a demolition job his presumed rivals.
“I have brought about these attacks myself, as I have declared my candidacy for presidency of the country early,” Binay said.
The Vice President has refused to attend the Senate hearings, where, he said, his opponents would only take advantage of the “circus” in preparation for the campaign period. He had said the probe had been prejudged by senators.
He instead challenged Trillanes to a one-on-one debate outside of the Senate where the senator won't be able to invoke parliamentary immunity – a challenge that has been accepted. The Senate blue ribbon committee, for its part, said on Wednesday it will take over the hearings and invite the Vice President.
Binay told Wednesday's audience that his early declaration of his intent to seek the presidency is not rooted in personal interest.
“To me, the presidency is not a position, it is neither a rank. It is an opportunity to do the greatest things for our Filipinos,” he said. – Rappler.com