VP Binay 'open' to Senate Blue Ribbon invitation?
MANILA, Philippines – After repeatedly rejecting earlier calls to attend a Senate probe into the alleged overpriced Makati building, Vice President Jejomar Binay appears open to the invitation extended by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to respond to corruption allegations before the Senate panel on November 6.
In previous instances, the Vice President had outrightly rejected repeated invitations made by the Senate Blue Ribbon Subcommittee probing the controversial building, but on Thursday, October 30, he said he would "study" the invitation of the mother committee sent to him by the committee chairperson, Senator Teofisto Guingona III.
"Pag-aaralan ko muna (I'll study it first)," he told reporters in Naga City when asked about the Senate invitation.
Binay explained: "Katatanggap-tanggap ko lang, ano ba naman 'di ba? 'Di ba sabi ko sa inyo 'wag tayong mag-speculate kung iimbitahin nga ako o hindi? Ngayon, nasa akin ang imbitasyon papag-aralan ko naman 'yun (I just received it, right? Didn't I tell you not to speculate if I would be invited or not? Now that I have the invitation, I will study it first)."
In inviting Binay, Guingona had said that Senate Blue Ribbon Committee was yielding to the Binay camp's request that should the Vice President appear before the Senate, he would only do so before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee and not its subcommittee, which is conducting the probe.
The Senate probe raised various allegations against Binay including earning kickbacks from overpriced infrastructure projects and illegally owning Hacienda Binay.
In speeches and interviews, the Vice President maintained that the allegations in the Senate probe are mere lies driven by political ambition. The Commission on Audit earlier confirmed that the allegedly overpriced Makati building raises "red flags" for not following the proper bidding procedures.
Guingona said he was prompted by statements from the Binay camp that they may entertain invitations from the mother committee.
'Excited over debate with Trillanes'
Binay said he is "excited" over his the debate with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV although no firm date and venue have been set.
Trillanes suggested they face each other on November 10. But Binay said it may not be a good idea because it's his wife's birthday on November 9.
It has been a week since they both agreed to the challenge. "I'm excited. The public will know who is saying the truth," Binay said in interview in Camarines Sur on Wednesday, October 29.
"Ako ho ang naghamon. Wala hong atrasan ito kung ako ho ang tatanungin niyo. Basta't magkakaharapan po tayo (I was the one who issued the challenge. There is no backing out if, you ask me. It has to be a one-on-one debate)," Binay added. (READ: Binay's challeng to Trillanes: One-one-one debate)
Trillanes is among the senators leading the Makati building probe, and also supported allegations by former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado that the Binays own a 350-hectare farm in Batangas. Trillanes said businessman Antonio Tiu is only serving as Binay's dummy.
The one-on-one debate is an opportunity to correct the supposed lies, Binay said.
"Ang tinitingnan ko lamang po ay madagdagan pa, malaman pa, makapanood pa, doon sa aming paliwanag tungkol ho doon sa kanilang kasinungalingan, 'yun ho kanilang pambibintang. Masakit ha, biro mo naman 'yun sa loob at labas ng Senado tinatawag kang magnanakaw. Medyo masakit ho 'yun," said Binay.
(We want to take the opportunity to get more people to listen to our explanation regarding the lies and allegations. It's painful. Can you imagine being called a thief in the Senate? That is painful.)
The Binay camp first broached the idea of a one-on-one debate on October 22 in response to Trillanes' challenge to Binay to appear before the Senate probe.
Trillanes immediately accepted Binay's challenged. He suggested that the debate be held in Hacienda Binay. The Vice President challenged Trillanes to a debate inside a military camp. – Rappler.com