MANILA, Philippines – Press releases are one thing but being interrogated by a former soldier is another.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Thursday, October 16, dismissed businessman Antonio Tiu's denial that he is Vice President Jejomar Binay’s dummy. (READ: VP Binay on accusations: 'Foul and below the belt')
Tiu of Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corporation is the registered owner of a vast property in Batangas, that Binay's critics allege the Vice President owns.
Former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, one of the primary “whistle-blowers” in the probe into the Binays' wealth, said Tiu is merely the property’s owner on paper.
“Kung press release lang madaling sabihin 'yun, pero kapag humarap siya, diyan makikita nyo panong gumuho yung istory niya,” Trillanes said in a press conference. (It’s easy to say that in press releases but once you face him, you’ll see how his story will crumble.)
Trillanes insisted his information was reliable and that he had the documents to prove that the businessman is just Binay's dummy. Tiu has expressed his willingness to appear before the Senate.
The Vice President was supposed to hold a press conference this week to address new allegations against him but decided to put this on hold until after Tiu testifies before the subcommittee.
“Kung haharap siya, siya mismo makikita 'nyo how he [conducts] himself under intense questioning,” added the senator. (If Tiu faces the Senate, you’ll see for yourself how he’ll respond to intense questioning.)
He also said he felt “betrayed” by Tiu, who he once considered a friend. “I was one of the speakers during the launching; I spoke together with Sec. Kiko Pangilinan,” said Trillanes, referring to a video of him speaking during a Sunchamp event making the rounds online.
“I felt betrayed kasi (because) I know him, he was a friend. Pero dahil dito sa cover-up na ito (but because of this coverup) our friendship will not protect him, so tutuluyan natin ito (we’ll push through with this),” added Trillanes.
The senator said Senator Alan Peter Cayetano will “present the evidence” to prove that Tiu is actually Binay’s dummy. “So lahat ng mga nakalap naming impormasyon ay ibibigay na naming kay Senator Alan,” Trillanes added. (We’ll forward the information we’ve gathered to Senator Cayetano.)
‘Binay hiding Limlingan’
Trillanes also accused the Vice President of “hiding” another alleged dummy of his, Gerry Limlingan. “Kina-coddle siya. Kasi kapag nakuha natin itong si Gerry Limlingan talagang 'yung buong kaluluwa nung kanilang sindikato ay lalabas,” said Trillanes. (READ: Binay's 'dear friend' got P1.3B contracts in 4 years)
(Binay is coddling Limlingan, because if we're able to get Limlingan to speak, everything about their syndicate will be revealed.)
In previous hearings, former Mercado accused the Vice President of earning 13% from city projects during his time as mayor. Limlingan was allegedly one of the 3 persons who received the cash in behalf of Binay.
Limlingan was also allegedly one of Binay’s dummies. The Senate has tried to summon Limlingan several times, but to no avail.
“Meron po tayong mga informants sa loob ng kampo ni VP Binay kaya nung as late as few weeks ago kasama pa 'yan sa mga meeting nila, si Gerry Limlingan, pero ngayon ay talagang ibinaon na nila,” said Trillanes. (We have informants from within Binay’s camp who said that as late as a few weeks ago, Limlingan was still in Binay meetings. But now he’s well hidden.)
Asked to elaborate on what he meant by “ibinaon” (literally, buried), Trillanes added: “Kung baga napakalalim ng pagtatago. Hopefully di pa naman binaon sa lupa.” (It means they’re hiding him well. Hopefully, they haven’t literally buried him underground yet.)
Trillanes admitted it would be “convenient” for Binay if Limlingan was out of the picture completely. “Hindi out of character kay VP Binay na gawin yan,” he said. (It wouldn’t be out of character for Binay to do that.)
Trillanes and Cayetano, both members of the Nacionalista Party, have led the probe into allegations of Binay's corrupt ways.
The Vice President and his son, incumbent Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr, both face plunder complaints before the Ombudsman for the construction of the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2.
The Senate probe, which was sparked by the plunder case, is close to hitting its 2-month mark. Trillanes in the same press conference said it would take at least 8 more hearings before they can wrap up. The senator said he also wants to investigate 5 other Makati buildings.
In the course of several hearings, former allies and Makati city officials have come forward to accuse the Binays of profiting from Makati.
The Vice President’s family – wife former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay and daughters Makati Representative Abigail Binay and Senator Nancy Binay – have all been accused of benefiting from city projects through rigged contracts and kickbacks.
The Binays have dismissed the probe as merely political in nature, allegedly a scheme to hurt the vice president’s chances in the 2016 presidential elections.
All ally of the Vice President from his United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said the ruling Liberal Party (LP) was against the “demolition job,” under “Operation Plan Stop Nognog 2016.”