MANILA, Philippines – “Sayang (A waste).”
This is how Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman Senator Teofisto Guingona III described the decision of Vice President Jejomar Binay to skip the Senate probe on corruption allegations against him on Thursday, November 6.
Instead of attending the Senate hearing, Binay opted to fly to Cebu.
“This would have been the proper time and forum so that these issues [will] be addressed,” said Guigona at the beginning of the committee hearing. He then adjourned the mother committee’s hearing right after his statement, pointing out that it was convened especially for Binay.
He said the hearing would have given the Vice President a chance to air his side of the story directly to the people so that they “may form their own opinion and conclusion on this issue.”
The Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee, composed of Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Alan Peter Cayetano and Aquilino Pimentel III, have been probing into allegations of bid rigging and kickbacks from city projects during Binay’s stint as Makati mayor.
Binay’s partymates and spokesmen, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president and Navotas Representative Tobias Tiangco and interim secretary general Jose Virgilio Bautista instead went to Guingona’s office to explain ahead of the 10 am hearing.
Tiangco and Bautista brought with them a statement from the Vice President and an affidavit, and asked that Bautista be allowed to read the statement before the committee after which they would also submit and read the affidavit.
“The committee met on this and voted on it. It was agreed that we will not allow the statement to be read or [filed],” Guingona said, adding that the documents may be submitted so that would form part of the records.
In an interview with reporters after the hearing as dismissed, Guingona said he would have allowed Bautista to read the statement but he was “outvoted.” He said that “since it’s a committee,” the decision is based on votes.
With Binay a no-show, the subcommittee reconvened and pushed through with its planned hearing. – Rappler.com