Will VP Binay attend Senate hearing?
MANILA, Philippines – Will Vice President Jejomar Binay appear before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee?
Binay faces plunder complaints before the Ombudsman and is the subject of a Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee probe into an allegedly overpriced Makati building built during his time as Makati mayor.
Binay’s former allies and political foes have accused him, his mayor-son Junjun and wife former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay, of rigging bids, receiving kickbacks, and hiding the family wealth through dummies. (READ: Can Antonio Tiu tell a lie?)
The pressure for Binay to address allegations against him is mounting.
Binay has held press conferences and delivered speeches flatly dismissing the allegations against him, but this has apparently failed to satisfy Filipinos, whose support he's counting on for his presidential bid in 2016.
The corruption scandal has caused his ratings to drop, although he remains the country’s most trusted public official and is still leading among presidential hopefuls for 2016.
After Binay snubbed the subcommittee, his camp said the Vice President was willing to attend the hearing but only if the main Blue Ribbon Committee will be the one to hold it. The chairman, Senator Teofisto Guingona III, then opened the probe to the larger committee.
@rapplerdotcom Binay should show up if it's the mother committee that's sitting.— HTD (@HtDeE) November 5, 2014
But will he attend the hearing? And should he? His spokespersons have different things to say.
In a radio interview, Navotas Representative Tobias Tiangco described the Senate invite as “a trap.” Tiangco, who is also the interim president of Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance party, has been vocal about his opposition to Binay’s Senate appearance.
The lawmaker and UNA stalwart, however, also said Binay would be attending despite the advice of his party mates.
Another UNA official, interim secretary general Jose Virgilio Bautista, said Binay would likely make his decision at the last minute.
His spokesman for political affairs Cavite Governor Juanito Victor Remulla, told Rappler he did not know of Binay’s plans just yet since the Vice President was in a Cabinet meeting at the Malacanang Palace until late afternoon. Remulla is not yet Binay’s party mate but is a member of the Nacionalista Party (NP).
Two of the 3 senators leading the probe into Binay, Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV, are also members of the NP.
The subcommittee, chaired by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, has invited Binay to one of its hearings, supposedly to let him explain his side. But the Vice President called the subcommittee a “kangaroo court” that has long prejudged him.
Two days before the November 6 hearing, Binay met with a Catholic Church official to explain his side. Binay reportedly gave Manila Auxillary Bishop Broderick Pabillo a document to explain the issues being hurled against him.
Binay has dismissed the probe as politically motivated, allegedly part of a plot to ruin his chances in the 2016 presidential elections.
Tiangco and Bautista, during the subcommittee’s last October 30 hearing, attempted to speak but were not allowed to. They would later storm out of the Senate session hall and hold an impromptu press briefing in a separate hall.
Trillanes in a press conference on Wednesday, November 5, said Binay should prepare for at least 6 hours of grilling by senators.
“Marami kaming itatanong sa kanya. He should clear his schedule, cancel his appointmens. Marami siyang ipapaliwanag ((We have a lot of questions for him. He has a lot of explaining to do),” he said.
Binay and Trillanes are also set to square off on November 27 in a one-on-one debate, a product of an earlier challenge made by Binay. – Rappler.com
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