Tiu: Senators acting as ‘complainant, prosecutor, judge’

Bea Cupin
Tiu: Senators acting as ‘complainant, prosecutor, judge’
Businessman Antonio Tiu, alleged to be the dummy of Vice President Jejomar Binay, says the 'full strength of the government' is being 'unleashed' against him and his companies because of his refusal to cooperate

MANILA, Philippines – As his legal, personal, and business woes continue to pile up, the alleged dummy of Vice President Jejomar Binay hit back at the senators leading the probe into corruption allegations against the Vice President.

In a press conference on Wednesday, November 5, businessman Antonio Tiu criticized the Senate Blue Ribbon subcomittee for “unleashing” against his companies “the full strength of the government,” allegedly because he refused to “cooperate” in the probe.

“The subcommittee is complainant, prosecutor and judge. I am standing by the truth that I am a buyer of the Rosario property in good faith,” said Tiu.

The businessman has been subpoenaed by the subcommittee at least twice to serve as a “resource person” in its hearings.

He is accused of fronting for Binay, using his company, Sunchamp, to purchase a 350-hectare estate in Rosario, Batangas in behalf of Binay. (PHOTOS: Binay and wife tour guests in ‘Hacienda Binay’)

Tiu said that even before he was summoned by the Senate, he was already “threatened and blackmailed.”

“While abroad, I received several text messages warning me to cooperate, if I wanted a free pass. Otherwise, other government agencies would come after me,” said Tiu.

In a previous interview with Rappler, Tiu said his erstwhile friend, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, sent emissaries to “convince [him] to do things against [his] will.” (READ: Q and A: Antonio Tiu on being Trillanes’ ‘collateral damage’)

Although an allegedly overpriced Makati building was the original focus of the probe, it has since turned into a forum for “whistleblowers” – Binay’s former allies and long-time political foes – to air the Vice President’s dirty laundry.

Binay allegedly amassed ill-gotten wealth during his time as Makati mayor through kickbacks and rigged bids. The Vice President supposedly hid his businesses and properties through dummies, with Tiu being one of many.

Tiu denies fronting for Binay and insists his purchase of the Batangas property is above-board, but has, so far, only produced a one-page, unnotarized document and tax declarations to prove ownership.

“The paper for the transfer of Sunchamp is still ongoing,” Tiu said during the press conference. In Senate hearings, Tiu emphasized this was “standard practice” for land title transfers to take time.

“I am not a dummy, I am not a money launderer. I am not guilty of any crime,” said Tiu.

Aside from allegations of him being a Binay dummy, Tiu may also face raps for tax evasion, agrarian reform law violations, and Philippine Stock Exchange disclosure violations.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Tiu said he has yet to receive a third subpoena from the subcommittee. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.