MANILA, Philippines – “Funny” and “baseless.”
The businessman accused of fronting for Vice President President Jejomar Binay used these words to criticize the Senate anew for citing him in contempt following his refusal to attend its hearings, even if “every subpoena was answered appropriately and represented by the lawyer.”
Billionaire Antonio Tiu is accused of being Binay’s dummy, allegedly fronting as the owner of a vast estate in Batangas for the Vice President.
The Senate blue ribbon committee first summoned Tiu to the hearings on the corruption allegations against Binay in October 2014. But after attending two, nearly day-long hearings, Tiu stopped going.
“All the questions that were being asked were already answered. Plus…they’re not there to seek the truth or the right answer from me but they’re only there to make me look ugly,” Tiu told Rappler on Monday, May 18.
“[In} the succeeding Senate hearings, when there’s a subpoena, we would reply. Whatever documents they ask, we comply. That’s the best I can do because I have a business, family to attend to. I’m not somebody doing nothing who can just sit there for days, just talking nonesense,” he added.
Tiu, who is typically out of the country for most of the month, said he will not be making any trips abroad while the Senate decision to cite him in contempt stands.
‘Desperate’ to see me?
The Senate’s decision to cite him in contempt was announced the same Monday.
But Tiu did not seem bothered or shaken, sitting through one media interview after another.
“I do not know where the logic of citing me in contempt comes from. But if they’re so desperate to see me in person, then I’ll go,” he said.
The subcommittee is scheduled to meet – but not hold a hearing – on Wednesday, May 20. The probe, among the longest in the Philippine Senate’s history, has brought forward to the public – and the media – allegations of Binay’s corruption.
It began with allegations of anomalies in the construction of a new city hall during Binay’s term as Makati mayor, but has since expanded into his alleged money-making ventures as Boy Scouts of the Philippines president and chairman of the Home Development Mutual Fund.
Aside from Tiu, the Senate also cited in contempt his brother, James Tiu and sister-in-law Anne Loraine Buencamino-Tiu. Other people alleged to be Binay’s dummies have also been cited in contempt, including his financial officer and close friend Gerardo Limlingan Jr.
In the same interview, Tiu criticized the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s report, the basis of a Court of Appeals (CA) decision to freeze over 30 of his accounts – from those under his name, his companies’ names, of his brother and sister-in-law, and even of his 60-year-old mother.
It’s the “new” alleged involvement of his mother, who was widowed when Tiu was only 19, that also made him change his mind.
“This time, it involves a very delicate and very anomalous accusations which is the freeze order plus it involves my mother so I have no choice but to go out and defend myself,” he said.
Tiu added: “We are not going to accept this kind of harassment that will even go up to the point of harassing my mother. And it’s just too much. The whole family is really angry and we will take all actions, whatever it takes, to protect the interests of my family, including my mother.” – Rappler.com
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