Vice President Jejomar C. Binay ~ Image Source: canadianinquirer.net
Vice President Jejomar C. Binay ~ Image Source: canadianinquirer.net

MANILA — Vice President Jejomar C. Binay declined to attend the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing held last Nov. 5, saying it would set a bad precedent if “the second highest official of the land can be summoned to a hearing by some senators.”

Instead, Binay decided to push through with his scheduled visit to Cebu.

“This will set a bad precedent, where the Vice President, the second highest official of the land, can be summoned to a hearing by some senators,” Binay told Senator Teofisto Guingona III, Blue Ribbon committee chairman, in a letter.

The Vice President also said that the senators conducting the hearing into the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II, the construction of which was initiated during his term as city mayor, “are not ready to hear any explanation that contradicts their conclusion” that he is guilty.

He submitted to the Senate Blue Ribbon committee an affidavit which he hoped would be included in the records of the proceedings.

“The affidavit contains a detailed response to the baseless accusations and lies of our political rivals, and the apparent bias of my detractors and efforts to malign me by members of the Senate sub-committee on matters related to the contents of Resolution 826,” he said.

Binay also said that Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco, interim president of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), and lawyer JV Bautista, interim UNA secretary general, are his authorized representatives in the hearings.

However, Tiangco and Bautista were not allowed to read Binay’s affidavit before the committee.

While he voted to have the letter read by Tiangco or Bautista, Guingona said his colleagues rejected this because they wanted Binay to personally appear before his committee.

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In his letter to Guingona, Binay raised issue over the demeanor of Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes during the hearings of the sub-committee.

“They continue to demonstrate this in their continued bullying, debasement, suppression, and intimidation of ordinary people whose testimonies contradict their conclusion,” he said.

He also complained about the “the failure of the Senate leadership to call the attention of the senators to their behavior and their violation of due process and individual rights.”

Binay said that resource persons who offer testimonies “contrary to the senator’s pre-judgment” are being treated like criminals during hearings.

“I am saddened that all this time, not once have the leaders of the Senate took notice, reminded, or called the attention of the senators for their wanton disregard of individual rights and of the law. Those invited to the hearings are ‘resource persons in aid of legislation,’ in other words, they were invited to help craft laws, as contained in the resolution. But they have been treated like criminals,” he said.

“Wth the way the Senate leadership has been turning a blind eye or even condoning the behavior of the senators,” Binay said he cannot expect a fair treatment if he attends the hearing.

“If these senators were not even admonished in the past 11 hearings, and if my authorized representatives were treated like criminals, I see no assurance that I will be given the chance to speak freely, that my rights will be recognized, or that the Office of the Vice President of the Philippines will be accorded the respect it deserves,” he said.

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Members of the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee have willfully allowed themselves to become part of a “syndicate of lies,” Binay alleged.

“In their willingness to be parties to a syndicate of lies, and in their inaction against rampant hunger, poverty, criminality, and the negligence of some agencies of government, these senators have become part of a system that belittles the poor and takes away their power to chart their own future,” he said. (Manila Bulletin)