Mayor Binay: Why focus on Makati? Probe Taguig, too

MANILA, Philippines – With his freedom in the hands of the Senate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay again questioned senators' bias against his family, saying that one other city with questionable projects remains free from scrutiny.

In his message to supporters on Wednesday, January 28, Binay urged the Commission on Audit (COA) to form a special audit team to investigate overpricing allegations in Taguig City, which is ruled by the family of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.

The Makati mayor evaded detention for the 3rd time on Wednesday, with the Senate later deciding to implement the arrest order against him on Thursday, January 29, before the hearing on alleged corruption in Makati.

Late Wednesday, the Senate rules committee upheld the decision of the blue ribbon committee to cite Binay and 5 others in contempt for repeatedly snubbing Senate hearings.

The blue ribbon committee is leading the Senate inquiry into allegations city officials, including the mayor and his father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, were involved in various illegal activities, such as fixing bids in city projects and receiving kickbacks.

Before the Senate reached its consensus, Binay spoke to his supporters outside the Makati City Hall, telling the crowd he would be spending another night with his children.

But he also used the occasion to decry what he called "selective justice" being implemented by the senators leading the probe, among them Cayetano.

Binay asked why his city was being singled out, adding that the neighboring city, Taguig, had questionable projects. Taguig's mayor is the wife of Cayetano, while its congressman is the senator's brother.

Mayor Binay again raised the challenge he issued in August 2014, where he urged senators to probe reports of overpriced multi-cab vehicles in Taguig City, a project funded through the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.

Cayetano is an ally of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who concurred with the recommendation to cite Binay in contempt during the Senate meeting last Monday.

"Bakit ang Taguig, sabi ng COA na may problema sa libro nila, pero hanggang ngayon walang special audit team na pumupunta?" he asked. (Why is it that there are no special audit teams to probe Taguig, where COA had found some irregularities?)

"Pero kapag Binay, kapag sa Makati, lahat ng pahirap aabutin…. Tayo lamang ang tinitingnan, kahit walang nakikita, pinipilit na siraan," Binay added. (But if it's Binay, if it's Makati, we are made to suffer...even if they see nothing wrong here, they try to tarnish our reputation.)

 

The investigation, which began in August last year, has since branched out to allegations of vast estate supposedly owned by Binay, rigged bids and condominiums received by the Binays in exchange for favors.

The Makati mayor said that he and his family are ready to face the accusations – but in court, not on the Senate floor. 

"Kung meron silang ebidensyang nagpapakita na maraming anomalya dito, mga senador, huwag na po natin pahabain sa Senado," he said. (If they have evidence to prove their allegations of anomalies here in Makati, senators, let us not prolong the issue further in the Senate.)

Binay added: "May dalawang kaso na po kami sa Ombudsman. Haharapin po namin, doon po namin sasagutin. pero para gamitin ninyo ang Senado para sa pansariling kapakanan para mapag-usapan kayo, kawawa naman ang taong-bayan."

(We already have two cases before the Ombudsman. We will answer questions there, but for you to use the Senate for your own personal gain, it's the people who suffer.)

 

Former Senator Joker Arroyo, an ally of the Binays, earlier called on his former colleagues to end the investigation into Makati, saying it had run too long, and told them to revisit Senate rules on such probes. – Rappler.com