Will VP Binay, son attend Senate probe?

MANILA, Philippines – Senate hearings? The vice president would rather welcome relocated informal settler into their new homes.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, the subject of a Senate probe into an allegedly overpriced Makati city building, has been formally invited by subcommittee chair Senator Aquilino Pimentel II to a Thursday, September 25 hearing on the issue.

But it’s unlikely Vice President Jejomar Binay will be anywhere near the Senate on Thursday, September 25.

In an email to media, the Office of the Vice President said Binay would be in Balut, Tondo, Manila to welcome resettlers into their news homes in Paradise Heights at around 9:30 am.

The September 25 hearing is scheduled at 10 am. Perhaps after the Tondo event then? But Binay is also scheduled to speak before the Philippine Homestyle Congress in Pasay city.

Binay’s spokesperson for political affairs Cavite Governor Juanito Victor Remulla said Binay has yet to make up his mind. But the vice president’s packed Thursday schedule only confirms what is obvious to many – the vice president will be a no-show to the hearing.

The Senate probe was prompted by the filing of plunder raps against Binay and his son, incumbent Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay, Jr. Complainants allege that under the father and son’s watch as Makati mayors, the city built an overpriced “parking building.”

The younger Binay, meanwhile, has been subpoenaed by the Blue Ribbon committee. He has yet to confirm, however, if he will be attending the hearing or not.

Mayor Binay is set to make a statement Thursday morning at the Makati city hall.

From cakes to kickbacks

Over the course of 5 hearings a myriad of other allegations have been thrown against the vice president and his family. Former Makati vice mayor turned Binay rival Ernesto Mercado told the Senate Binay received a 13% kickback for every city project.

The money, said Mercado, was then split into 3 – for Binay’s own use, for his family’s use, and for campaign funds. Former Makati employees also accused the political family of rigging the city’s bids and of profiting from cakes that the city gives to its senior citizens.

The vice president has since dismissed the allegations against him, saying they would not be permissible in court. On Wednesday, Binay through his spokesman and legal counsels released his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) from 1988 to 2013.

Remulla said it was Binay’s way of leading by example.

“A lifestyle check must be undertaken by those who aspire a higher office. We thought that it would be best if we do it first,” he said during a September 24 press conference.

His political allies, some new members of the coalition and soon-to-be-party United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said the “attacks” on Binay are expected – and they are not worried.

“In my experience, every time there’s an election these things will come up. The important thing here is the evidence… hindi puwedeng laway lang (We can’t just rely on their word),” UNA deputy secretary general and Valenzuela Representative Sherwin Gatchalian earlier told Rappler.

The same day Binay released his SALNs, he also led the first organizational meeting of UNA – his vehicle for the 2016 elections. Thus far, Binay is the only would-be candidate with clear and publicized plans for 2016.

Surveys give Binay a comfortable lead over other would-be candidates. He is also placed way ahead ruling Liberal Party’s presumed standard-bearer Interior and Local Government Secretary Manual Roxas II. 

Cayetano and Trillanes have both expressed interest in seeking higher office. – Rappler.com