Mayor Binay slams ‘telenovela’ Senate probe

Katerina Francisco
Mayor Binay slams ‘telenovela’ Senate probe
Mayor Jejomar Erwin 'Junjun' Binay Jr insists that the Senate probe into corruption allegations against his family is just part of a 'script' penned by their accusers

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) –  Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr on Tuesday, January 27,  lashed back at his accusers, saying they are behind the “script” of the Senate probe into the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2.

Binay made the comment in an interview with reporters a couple of hours before the Senate was set to discuss the detainment order against the mayor and several others after they were cited for contempt for repeatedly snubbing Senate hearings.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano had accused Binay of theatrics after the latter said he was ready to surrender should the Senate decide to order his detainment.

Si Mayor Junjun, payag siyang magpakulong. Hindi naman ito kulungan, Senado ito eh (Mayor Junjun said he’s willing to be detained. But this is not a jail; this is the Senate),” Cayetano told reporters.

The senator added: “Sila pinagbibintangan na gumawa ng anomaly, sila ang ayaw sumagot, tapos sila ang magdadrama na inaapi sila….Nakakaawa ba ang isang bilyon-bilyon pinag-uusapang overpriced [building], eh hinihingi lang nating magpaliwanag siya?” 

(They who are being accused of committing anomalies are the ones who don’t want to respond [to the allegations], then they’re acting as if they’re being bullied. Should we take pity on a multibillion-peso overpriced building, when we are just asking him to explain?)

Responding to Cayetano’s comments, Binay said it was not he who “wrote the script” to what he called a long and protracted “telenovela (soap opera).”
 
Mayor Binay borrowed the line of his father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, who had made the same observation in August 2014, when the hearings started. The elder Binay had called the proceedings “a badly written soap opera.”

 

 

 

Mayor Binay said: “Hindi ako gumagawa ng script sa telenovela. Hindi ako nag-cite ng contempt sa sarili ko para makulong ako (I’m not the one writing the script of this telenovela. I’m not the one who cited myself in contempt for my own detainment).”

 

 
He added: “If there’s really enough evidence to prove wrongdoing, then give us the opportunity to answer [the allegations] in court.”

 

 

 

On Monday, the Senate blue ribbon committee cited Binay and 5 others in contempt for skipping Senate hearings into corruption allegations. Among those accused are the mayor and  his father Vice President Binay, who previously served as city mayor.

 

 

 

The Senate later deferred the detention order after acting Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III questioned the procedure.

Mayor Binay said Tuesday’s Senate meeting was proof that the contempt citation and subsequent signing of the detention order was rushed.

But he said he would comply with the Senate decision, even as he criticized what he called biased and unfair proceedings against his family.

Due process

Binay has snubbed 3 Senate hearings on the investigation – a move that prompted Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee conducting the probe, to recommend citing the Makati mayor and other officials in contempt.

Mayor Binay said he has not been accorded fair and due process, and that he has been treated as an accused instead of a resource person appearing at the Senate in aid of legislation.

Ang hinihiling ko lang ay mabigyan kami ng pagkakataong masagot ang mga tanong. They have to show to us the general direction, hindi naman puwedeng bulagaan na lang. May karapatan din laming dapat kilalanin at respetuhin,” he said.
 

 

(I’m only asking to be given an opportunity to respond to the questions. They have to show us the general direction, we can’t just be caught unawares. We also have rights that should be respected.)

 

He added: “Kung makita naming fair, mabigyan ng due process, madali sana ang kurso ng ginagawang hearing (If we were given fair and due process, the course of the hearings would have been faster).”

 

 

Mayor Binay also lamented how some senators seem to be judging the resource persons’ guilt or innocence, which, Binay pointed out, was not the Senate’s job.

 

 

However, the Makati mayor did not entirely close the door on testifying at the Senate hearings.

 

 

He said he would to face the Senate panel if it grants his request to receive a copy of the questions beforehand so he can prepare.

 

Ang hinihingi namin, mabigay lang sa amin ang mga tanong para makatulong kami sa hearing ng Senado (We are asking to be furnished the questions so that we can help the Senate hearing). It’s not too much to ask,” he said.

 

Mayor Binay and his father face plunder raps over an alleged overpriced Makati City building, the issue that ignited the Senate probe in August 2014.

The investigation has since dug up many other alleged anomalies – from a vast estate supposedly owned by Binay, rigging bids and condominiums received in exchange for favors – that implicated the now Vice President, his wife, and his son, the incumbent mayor.
 
The Binays have dismissed the Senate probe as their political rivals’ ploy to derail the Vice President’s 2016 presidential bid.
 

 

Arrest delayed again

Binay’s arrest was delayed again as the Senate decided late Tuesday afternoon to give its members one day to study clashing interpretations on the Senate rules on quorum.

Cayetano told reporters that the chamber will decide on Wednesday whether or not only two members or one-third of all committee members constitute a quorum for all Senate committee meetings, hearings, and investigations.

Binay’s allies led by Acting Senate Minority Leader Sotto insisted that one-third of committee members must be the threshold for the quorum. Sotto and Senator Nancy Binay questioned why only Senators Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Aquilino Pimentel III were present in the meeting to cite Binay in contempt.

Yet Cayetano said that Binay’s arrest is only a matter of time.

“It’s a question of procedure or legality rather than a question of whether or not he must be arrested. Everyone agrees he should be arrested. The only question is if the procedure was right,” Cayetano said. – Rappler.com

 

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