Trillanes: Antonio Tiu 'part of Binay cover-up'
MANILA, Philippines – After being grilled by senators for over 4 hours on Thursday, October 30, the businessman accused of serving as a front of Vice President Jejomar Binay was asked: Are you or are you not a dummy of Binay?
Antonio Tiu flatly denied being the Vice President's dummy. Tiu has claimed ownership of a controversial estate in Rosario, Batangas, tagged "Hacienda Binay" by whistleblowers in a Senate probe.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, one of 3 senators leading the probe into allegations of Binay's corruption, then turned his attention to somebody else: the man Tiu purchased the property from – Laureano Gregorio Jr.
"Given everything you've seen, is it possible that Laureano Gregorio is the dummy of VP Binay?" Cayetano quizzed Tiu at a Senate hearing Thursday.
Tiu declined to answer, pointing out that he "cannot speak on behalf of Gregorio" nor could he "pass judgment" on him.
"I am asking you to speak for yourself," insisted Cayetano. But Tiu refused to give a definitive answer.
Tiu's non-answer prompted Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to conclude that this was proof of Tiu's participation in the "cover-up" for Binay.
The 39-year-old Tiu has insisted that the 145-hectare Batangas property described as "Hacienda Binay" by the Vice President's detractors, belongs to him through his company Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp. As proof, he submitted to the Senate on Thursday a one-page Memorandum of Agreement between himself and Gregorio.
Senators leading the probe, however, criticized Tiu because the document was not notarized.
Trillanes earlier chided Tiu during the hearing. "You can laugh and smile all you want but we all know what happened. Huwag kang magpa-cute. (Don't act all cute)," said Trillanes, as Tiu was being grilled over documents to prove he owned the Batangas property.
Tiu, meanwhile, repeatedly asked the senators to give him "due respect" as a resource speaker of the hearing. Cayetano curtly answered back: "You're not giving us due respect by lying to our faces."
In a previous hearing, Tiu said he exercised "due diligence" in acquiring the property. Even then, Tiu admitted he did not check whether Gregorio was a dummy or not but insisted Gregorio showed proof he was the owner of the land.
The deal between Tiu and Gregorio was checked by lawyer Martin Subido, Tiu's longtime friend and legal counsel. Subido is also the legal counsel of Binay.
A Rappler investigation showed that while the land may not be under Binay’s name, records show that the parcels of land comprising the controversial property in Batangas are under the name of his former aides, friends, and their family members.
Documents show that at least 15 parcels of land in the vast property are under the names of people with direct or indirect links to Binay.
The hearing is part of the subcommittee's probe into an allegedly overpriced Makati building, which has since evolved into a forum wherein Binay's former allies and political foes have taken turns in accusing him of amassing ill-gotten wealth during his stint as Makati mayor.
Former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado said Binay fixed bids and received kickbacks from city projects.
The Vice President has denied all the accusations, saying the probe, the plunder case, and the exposés are just part of a scheme to hurt his chances in the 2016 presidential elections. – Rappler.com