Senate of the Philippines

Cayetano-led hearing on new Senate office gets too personal, Binay walks out

Bonz Magsambol

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Cayetano-led hearing on new Senate office gets too personal, Binay walks out

FEUD. Senators Nancy Binay and Alan Peter Cayetano trade barbs during the public hearing on the new senate building project on July 3, 2024.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

The two trade barbs for about 20 minutes. Senator Cayetano even insinuates that Senator Binay influenced the media to favor her narrative.

The feud between Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Nancy Binay took center stage in a hearing that was supposed to shed light on the ballooning cost of the new Senate building construction in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.

Cayetano-led hearing on new Senate office gets too personal, Binay walks out

Cayetano, chair of the Senate committee on accounts, launched a probe into the issue on Wednesday, July 3, after Senate President Chiz Escudero ordered a “comprehensive review.”

The Senate President had said he was shocked after learning that it would cost the government P23 billion to complete the new Senate building. Escudero, however, said, he never claimed there were irregularities, and that he was just doing his job to find ways to bring down the cost.

The committee on accounts is in charge of the Senate’s budget, expenses, audit, and other fiscal activities, including the ongoing construction of the new Senate home in Fort Bonifacio. Binay is the former accounts committee chair.

At the hearing, Binay refuted Cayetano’s claim that the cost now stands at P23 billion. She said it was only P21.7 billion. Unconvinced, Cayetano insisted that cost had reached P23 billion because of the land acquisition.

Cayetano-led hearing on new Senate office gets too personal, Binay walks out

“You’ve been going around saying na mali ‘yung number namin. Kung mali, correct it, pero ang nagbigay ng number sa amin staff mo. So anong problema? Ginugulo mo ‘yung hearing eh. Kung sasabihin mo mali, ano ang tamang number?” Cayetano asked Binay. But Binay wasn’t able to get the chance to explain because Cayetano would always interrupt her.

(You’ve been going around saying that our numbers are wrong. If wrong, then correct them, but these numbers are from your staff. So what’s the problem? You’re disturbing the hearing. If wrong, what’s the correct number?”

“Ang problema sa ‘yo, you keep going around and saying ‘gusto ko makausap si Alan, gusto ko makausap si Chiz.’ Nagkita pa tayo sa party hindi mo naman kami kinakausap tapos ngayon manggugulo ka sa hearing,” Cayatano told Binay.

(The problem with you is that you keep going around and saying, “I want to talk to Alan, I want to talk to Chiz.” We even saw each other at a party, but you didn’t talk to us, and then now, you’re disturbing the hearing.)

Insults for 20 minutes

The two traded barbs for like 20 minutes. Cayetano even insinuated that Binay influenced the media to favor her narrative.

“Ano bang intention mo na guguluhin mo ang hearing natin? It’s P23 billion total. Ang dami mo nang inimbento sa media, imbento ka naka-10 interview ka, baka ito naman ‘yung Makati-Taguig. Eh hindi mo man lang iniba question sa radyo. Lahat pare pareho question, eksakto pa eh, eh di halatang ikaw nagbigay ng question,” Cayetano said.

(What’s your intention in disturbing our hearing? It’s P23 billion in total. You said a lot of lies to the media and did 10 interviews and telling them that it’s related to the Makati-Taguig issue. You didn’t even change questions in radio interviews. Every interview had the same exact questions. It’s apparent that it’s you who gave the questions.)

Binay responded by saying, “Bakit naman ako magbibigay ng question sa media? Baka gawain ‘nyo yung nagbibigay ng tanong. Excuse me!” (Why would I give questions to the media? Maybe it’s you who gives questions. Excuse me!)

The two lawmakers had been at odds in the past. It was Cayetano who led the year-long probe against the Binay family in Makati infrastructure projects in 2015, including the overpriced Makati building.

The contract of the new Senate building was awarded to Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which is the implementing agency of the project. Hilmarc’s is the same company that was embroiled in the overpriced P2.3-billion Makati City Hall Building II way back in 2014. The project was initiated in 2007 under then-mayor Jejomar Binay and was completed in 2012 under his son, Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr., who became mayor in 2010. (READ: Binay’s Makati building overshoots approved budget)

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Binay said the DPWH, which was invited by Cayetano to answer questions, was not given the chance to explain their side because they always got interrupted by the committee chairman.

At some point of their heated exchange, Cayetano resorted to name-calling, saying that Binay’s name is Lourdes, and not “Marites” (a Filipino slang for gossipmongers).

“Sinasabi mo na may kinalaman ito sa Makati-Taguig issue. Sasabihin mo may sumasaksak sa likod mo. Ano iisipin nila? Ma’am isa lang sasabihin ko sa ‘yo, Lourdes pangalan mo at hindi Marites. Ayusin natin ito. Nakakahiya na,” Cayetano said.

(You’re telling us that this hearing has something to do with Makati-Taguig issue. You said that someone is backstabbing you. What will they think? Ma’am, I’ll tell you one thing, your name is Lourdes, not Marites. Let’s fix this. This is embarrassing.)

In a press conference on Tuesday, July 2, Binay claimed that there’s one senator sowing intrigue against her and the new Senate building, but she refused to name the said colleague. (READ: ‘Personal vendetta’? Binay prepares ahead of Cayetano’s new Senate building probe)

Towards the end of their heated exchange, Binay asked the DPWH if there was a P23-billion amount in their documents, to which DPWH Undersecretary Emil Sadain responded, “There is none.”

After the DPWH responded, Binay told Cayetano, “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I made my point. There’s no such thing as P23 billion sa (in) DPWH.” Then she walked out of the room.

The dispute between the Binays and the Cayetanos was compounded when Taguig won jurisdiction over 10 “embo” barangays that were previously under Makati.

Makati Mayor Abby Binay, whose term ends in 2025, expressed a desire to seek the Taguig mayorship in the same year. Meanwhile, Senator Binay said that she’s eyeing to run for mayor in Makati as her Senate term ends next year. –

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  1. ET

    Round 2 of the Binay vs. Cayetano match is an intriguing watch from start to finish, another captivating display of the Philippine Political Circus.

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.