BIR probe on UMak part of 'conspiracy' vs VP – Binay camp

MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay hit the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for saying it will investigate the alleged questionable deal between the University of Makati (UMak) and the Systems Technology Institute (STI).

"The BIR chief [Kim Henares] has acted swiftly on a written request from a critic of Vice President Binay, which is all part of their conspiracy to harass businesses and private individuals even remotely connected to the VP," said Binay's spokesperson Rico Quicho on Monday, March 14. 

Binay critic and lawyer Renato Bondal had earlier filed a plunder complaint before the Ombudsman against Binay and his son, dismissed Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr, over the UMak-STI deal in September 2015.

Bondal claimed the Binays received about P500 million in kickbacks from the tuition and professional fees collected from the UMak College of Nursing. 

Other respondents in the complaint are UMak president and Binay ally Tomas Lopez, STI president Monico Jacob, businessman Eusebio Tanco, Annabelle Bautista of STI, and ophthalmologist Jack Arroyo Jr.

Six months later, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV wrote to the BIR, Anti-Money Laundering Council, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Philippine Stock Exchange to investigate the UMak-STI agreement as the plunder complaint remains pending.

Trillanes, a vice presidential candidate, is a staunch critic of Binay and was among the senators who probed the corruption allegations against the Vice President. (READ: After Senate probe, Binay no longer ‘king-in-waiting’ – Trillanes)

Binay's camp has repeatedly claimed that all the accusations being thrown at him are part of detractors' attempt to derail his presidential bid.

Nothing personal?

According to BIR chief Henares, they have received Trillanes' letter and they "are looking into it."

"This is not about personalities. Our obligation is to make sure everybody abides by the rules," she said. 

Quicho, however, slammed Henares' decision to grant Trillanes' request for an investigation. 

"In the business community, harassment is a term that is associated with the BIR. No wonder the business community has warmly applauded the Vice President's statement that the current BIR chief will be gone 30 minutes after he takes his oath as president," he said.

The Vice President has been mentioning in speeches before business leaders that he would replace Henares as BIR chief if he is elected president. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

image