Remulla: Senate follows 'rules of ambition' in Makati probe

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay isn’t running away from allegations of corruption, his spokesman Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla said.

But it’s unlikely he’ll do this before the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee leading the probe into the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2.

Alam niyo po napakahirap ng Senate Blue Ribbon committee. Hindi ho natatakot si Vice President diyan. Pero saan ho kayo makakita na ang rules of court eh hindi ho nasusundan? Ang rules lang po rules of ambition,” said Remulla in a Tuesday, September 9, interview with dzRH.

(The Senate Blue Ribbon committee is tricky. The Vice President isn’t afraid of them. But the committee doesn’t follow the rules of court. The only rules they follow are the rules of ambition.)

Remulla was alluding to Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano, who have led the interrogation of resource persons. Vice President Binay has declared his plans for the presidency in 2016. Trillanes and Cayetano, meanwhile, have also hinted at aspirations for higher office.

The probe stems from plunder raps filed against Vice President Binay and his son, Makati mayor Junjun Binay. Under the terms of the two, an allegedly overpriced “parking builidng” – the Makati City Hall Building 2 – was built.

Resource persons who have spoken before the committee have accused the Binays not only of profiting from the controversial building but from other buildings as well. One resource person, who also filed the plunder raps against the Binays, accused the vice president’s daughter Senator Nancy Binay of earning from cakes the city gives to its senior citizens.

‘Not overpriced’

Remulla insisted the building is not overpriced, reiterating claims by building contractor Hilmarc’s Construction Company that based on cost per square meter, the building is close to other government projects.

Hilmarc’s executive denied the Vice President earned from the construction of the building, a claim belied by former Makati City employees. Remulla hit the testimony of the Senate’s resource persons, calling their statements “speculative.”

The spokesman conceded that under Senate rules, inconclusive statements are allowed but said this is what is deterring Binay from facing the Senate committee. “Sa mga sistema ng mga senador, inuuna nila ang theatrics kaysa kung paano litisin talaga ang katotohanan,” he said. (The senators put theatrics over the truth.)

Remulla also criticized Trillanes’ method of questioning, saying the senator only favors resource persons who point to the Binays’ guilt. “Yung mga senador, sinisindak po nila yung mga witness na pwedeng magsiwalat kung ano talaga ang nangyari,” said Remulla. (The senators scare the witnesses who could reveal what really happened.)

Trillanes on Monday, September 8, took on Senator Binay’s challenge to unearth the Senate’s CCTV video of the hearings. Trillanes had repeatedly denied bullying or coercing committee witnesses.

The Senate is set to hold another hearing on the issue on September 11. –