'New witness' vs Binay as Senate resumes probe January 26

MANILA, Philippines – After almost 5 months of hiatus, the Senate will resume its investigation into allegations of corruption and unexplained wealth hounding Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday, January 26.

In a text message to Rappler on Thursday, January 21, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV confirmed that a "new witness" would be presented during the hearing.

"What we will present on Tuesday is a new issue and is very material to [the] main subject of corruption in the Makati City government," said Trillanes, a member of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee, who initiated the re-opening of the more than year-long Senate probe into corruption allegations against Binay.

The senator said the hearing will tackle "the total amount of money plundered by VP Binay in Makati," where the Vice President was mayor for 21 years.

Trillanes, however, refused to divulge further details about the probe.

The hearing will be held just two weeks before the official start of the campaign period on February 9. In the last hearing in August 2015, a Makati city hall official revealed how Binay’s “dummies” allegedly cornered contracts in the city for a decade. 

Binay spokesman Joey Salgado previously said Trillanes only wanted to re-open the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee's investigation to boost the senator's "catatonic campaign" for his vice presidential bid.

 

Trillanes slammed anew Salgado's claims on Thursday.

 

"This hearing was supposed to be conducted last November but we had budget hearings so it was deferred to January," he said.

 

Trillanes is lagging behind in recent election surveys while Binay, the United Nationalist Alliance standard-bearer, is on top. (READ: Binay, Escudero lead 2016 race – SWS survey)

 

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, who had been active in the inquiry into allegations against Binay, is the running mate of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Senate blue ribbon subcommittee chair Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III is the president of Duterte’s party, PDP-Laban. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

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

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