After Senate probe, Binay no longer ‘king-in-waiting’ – Trillanes

MANILA, Philippines – While stressing that it's not the "primary objective" of the yearlong probe, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said he is satisfied with the Senate investigation into corruption allegations against Vice President Jejomar Binay as the presidential aspirant now seems less certain of winning the 2016 race.

Trillanes made the statement on Tuesday, January 26, after the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee wrapped up its 25th and last hearing on allegations against Binay which, for a time, dislodged the Vice President as the presidential front runner in voters' preference surveys.

Let’s remember back in 2014, si Vice President Binay was already acting like a king-in-waiting dahil he was moving like a political juggernaut na ‘di mapipigilan ‘yung pag-upo bilang presidente. But right now, there’s no way na sigurado siya about it,” the senator told reporters.

(Let’s remember back in 2014, Vice President Binay was already acting like a king-in-waiting because he was moving like a political juggernaut that can't be stopped from sitting as president. But right now, there’s no way he’s sure about it.)

From August 20, 2014, until January 26, 2016, the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee conducted a total of 25 public committee hearings on two Senate resolutions (SR) concerning various alleged anomalous projects and transactions under Binay when he was Makati mayor. (TIMELINE: Binay’s plunder case, one year after)

SR No 826 concerns the alleged overpriced the Makati city hall parking building II and the Makati Science High School building, while SR No 1114 involved the alleged irregular transactions entered into by the Home Development Fund (Pag-IBIG) and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines under the leadership of Binay.

"I am happy and I’m tired at the same time," Trillanes said of the outcome of the Senate investigation.

"Sa akin nga, dapat last year pa ito but we just have to put these presentations and statements on record para maisama sa final committee report. ‘Yun lang ‘yung ginawa natin and I hope na marami tayong natutunan dito. Kami, definitely marami at nakita niyo naman ‘yung mga proposed legislation kung papaano natin aayusin ‘yung ating sistema,” he added.

(For me, the hearings should have been finished by last year, but we just have to put these presentation and statements on record so we could include them in the final committee report. That’s what we did here and I hope we learned a lot from this. We definitely did ang you could see it, through the proposed legislation on how we plan to fix the system.)

The senator added he would still consider the investigation a success even if Binay, the United Nationalist Alliance standard-bearer, has regained the top spot in election surveys. (READ: Binay's strategy of silence)

He noted that derailing Binay's presidential bid was not the main objective of the probe.

Hindi ‘yan ang primary objective natin. Primary objective natin is kalkalin ‘yung mga anomalya na naireport sa atin at incidental ‘yung personalities (That’s not our primary objective. Our primary objective is to dig into the anomalies reported to us and the personalities involved are just incidental),” said Trillanes.

Subcommittee chairperson Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III defended the investigation, saying it led to various government agencies conducting their own probes into the issues raised in the Senate.

Among the supposed achievements of the probe is the Ombudsman finding probable cause to indict Binay, son dismissed Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr, and other city hall officials for allegedly overpricing the Makati city hall parking building

The Ombudsman had already dismissed the younger Binay, while the Vice President is facing a civil forfeiture case from the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

‘Just political rhetoric’

Binay’s spokesperson for political affairs Rico Quicho said, however, that the Senate probe “ended the same way it began – with half-truths, rehashed lies, and baseless allegations.”

“The subcommittee’s so-called final hearing highlighted the obvious. After 25 hearings, no credible and admissible evidence has been presented to support the outrageous allegations against the Vice President. The hearings were just a waste of time and resources of the Senate,” Quicho said in a statement.

He slammed two of the star witnesses who gave testimonies before the Senate panel in the past months: former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado and lawyer Renato Bondal, whose plunder complaint against Binay and his son prompted the Senate investigation.

“Mr Bondal based his testimonies from newspaper clippings from a biased newspaper. Mr Mercado, meanwhile, merely repeated the lies that he's been peddling since the hearing started last year,” said Quicho.

“The rest of the ‘testimonies’ are just political rhetoric from a vice presidential candidate lagging behind in the surveys,” added Binay’s spokesperson, taking a swipe at Trillanes.

On Tuesday, Trillanes had accused Binay of lying to the public by releasing a television advertisement describing the Senate probe as  “masakit, malupit, pagkatao ay minamaliit (painful, cruel, my person is belittled).” (READ: Trillanes: Binay lied in TV ad on Senate probe)  – 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.

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