What's the Big Idea series

Binay camp to Inquirer: ‘See you in court, again’

Mara Cepeda
Binay camp to Inquirer: ‘See you in court, again’

John Jerome E. Ganzon

Senator Nancy Binay accuses the news daily of being part of a 'demolition job' against her father

ILOCOS SUR, Philippines – The gloves are off for the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay after the Philippine Daily Inquirer released a report alleging that the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard-bearer used billions of pesos from Makati city infrastructure projects to fund his 2010 campaign.

“I just have one message for the Inquirer. See you in court, again,” Senator Nancy Binay said in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of her father’s sortie in Candon City on Tuesday, March 15.  

The Inquirer is among the respondents in a P200-million damage suit VP Binay filed against his critics before the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC). The others are Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, and Caloocan City Representative Edgar Erice. 

On Tuesday, Senator Binay accused the newspaper of playing a “huge role in smearing the reputation of the Binay name.”

Sabi ko nga, siguro kung ang nangyari for the day [ay] gumuho ang Pilipinas, baka kami pa rin ang istorya sa Inquirer, ‘yung paninira pa din (I’ve said before that  if the Philippines suddenly crumbled into dust one day, the Inquirer would still write a damning story against us.)”

The Inquirer article discussed the contents of an Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report, alleging that the Vice President’s 2010 election expenses were sourced from the accounts of his alleged “dummies.” 

“It’s a rehashed story. They’re making it appear na may bagong AMLC report when there’s none. It’s a demolition job against the Vice President,” said Senator Binay.

The same report claims that the former Makati mayor used money from the Makati City Hall Parking Building II, the Makati Science High School, and the free birthday cakes for senior citizens program to finance his vice presidential bid. 

The AMLC had already filed a civil forfeiture case before the Manila Regional Trial Court against the Vice President Binay, his family, and alleged accomplices in public fund laundering. (READ: Binay camp to other bets: Let AMLC examine your bank accounts

Rappler’s Aries Rufo ran a similar report in May 2015 by cross-checking VP Binay’s Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) with the AMLC’s freeze order petition before the appellate court. 

The bank accounts of the Vice President’s former finance officer and “dear friend” Gerardo “Gerry” Limlingan and trusted aide Eduviges “Ebeng” Baloloy allegedly enjoyed massive infusion of funds from December 2009 to June 2010.

‘Bring out the report, Inquirer’ 

The senator challenged the Inquirer to produce the alleged report.

“We don’t even have a copy of that report. How can we justify or explain our side on a report we are not even sure kung talagang nag-eexist (if it really exists)? I dare Inquirer to bring out that report na sinasabi nilang (they’re saying)they have an alleged copy of,” she said.

The report was released on the same day Binay slid to third place, tied with Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, in the latest Pulse Asia survey on presidential aspirants commissioned by ABS-CBN. It was topped by Senator Grace Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

The senator also said there is a pending gag order issued by the Manila RTC to the concerned parties, which stops VP Binay from replying to the allegations himself.

So kahit gustong sumagot ng ating Vice President, hindi siya puwedeng sumagot kasi nga siya ‘yung party concerned doon sa existing case (So even if the Vice President wants to respond, he can’t because he’s a concerned party in the existing case),” said Senator Binay.

She said their lawyers will “exhaust all legal remedies” to defend the Vice President, whether it be through filing another case or informing the court that one of the parties concerned did not adhere to the gag order.  

Ang ating Vice President Binay ay isang abogado. At alam niya na ‘yung ganitong issue dapat sa korte pinag-uusapan at hindi sa front page,” added Senator Binay.

(You know that Vice President Binay is a lawyer. He knows that issues like should be fought in the court and not in the front page.)

Mudslinging in time for 2nd debate?

Binay’s campaign spokesperson, Rico Quicho, accused the Commission on Audit (COA), the Ombudsman, and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) of being part of “orchestrated efforts” to derail Binay’s presidential bid. 

The Ombudsman had found probable cause to indict VP Binay, his son dismissed Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr and other city hall officials with criminal charges for the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Parking Building II. 

A COA special audit report found VP Binay liable for graft and corruption in relation to the same city infrastructure project. 

The BIR, meanwhile, recently said it would investigate the alleged anomalous deal between the University of Makati and the Systems Technology Institute during VP Binay’s term as mayor.  

Lahat ho ito, siguro hindi na ho natin kinakailangan maging rocket scientist para malaman po natin na lahat po ito ay orchestrated efforts para naman ho magkaroon na naman ng issue laban ho kay Vice President Binay sapagkat nalalapit na naman po ang debate,” said Quicho.

(We don’t need to become rocket scientists to determine that these are all orchestrated efforts to bring up issues against Vice President Binay before the debate.)

The second presidential debate is happening in Cebu City on Sunday, March 20. Political analysts gave VP Binay a poor rating for his “lackluster” performance at the first debate in Cagayan de Oro, but his camp said he performed well. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.