Nancy Binay to critics: Go ahead, impeach my dad

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Nancy Binay challenged critics of Vice President Jejomar Binay to file an impeachment complaint against her father instead of pursuing a Senate investigation into his alleged corruption.

The eldest daughter of the Vice President on Tuesday, August 12, criticized the process by which the Senate blue ribbon committee is pushing for a probe into the allegedly overpriced buildings of Makati under the leadership of her father and her brother.

On Monday, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV filed a resolution to investigate the supposed overpricing of a Makati “parking building,” an older city hall, and “related anomalies.” 

Visibly upset, Senator Binay said on Tuesday: “I’m not familiar with the rules, pero ang alam ko kasi, ang Vice President, impeachable officer iyan eh, so kung ang hearing nga, ano ba talaga ang hearing? In aid of legislation o meron siyang patama na may bahid ng korupsiyon? Kasi kung iyon ang ano niya eh ‘di ang tamang proseso for him is to file an impeachment complaint against the Vice President.”

(But I know that the Vice President is an impeachable officer, so what is the hearing really for? In aid of legislation or he is accusing the Vice President of being tainted with corruption? Because if that’s his point, then the proper process is for him to file an impeachment complaint.) 

The 1987 Constitution states that the president, the vice president, and members of the Supreme Court and constitutional commissions, and the Ombudsman may be impeached based on the following grounds:

The Senate resolution stems from a plunder and graft complaint filed before the Ombudsman against the Vice President and his son, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr on the alleged overpricing of a Makati “parking building” first built in 2007 when the elder Binay was Makati mayor. The building was allegedly overpriced by P1.314 billion ($30 million). 

The Binays though said the structure was not a mere parking building. 

Trillanes cites ‘public interest’

The Vice President said he was “amused” by the Senate investigation.

“Natutuwa kami kasi iniimbestigahan pa kami ng Senate. Maipapakita po namin sa Diyos at sa tao na hindi totoo iyan at walang basehan. Kaya naman namin nasasabing politically motivated,” the Binay patriarch said on Tuesday. 

(We find the Senate investigation amusing. We will show God and the people that the allegations are false and baseless. This is why we say it’s politically motivated.)

Senator Binay said the Senate probe slated to start next week sets a bad precedent. “If a governor has a rival who files a case against him, and that person is allied with a senator, then the senator can just file a resolution and we’ll hear it. We’re opening a can of worms with this process.” 

Trillanes was quick to defend his resolution from allegations of politicking. The senator is seeking higher office in 2016, possibly going up against the elder Binay, who is leading presidential surveys with a wide margin.   

“It involves the Vice President of the Republic and a potential president of the country. Therefore it’s imbued with public interest so we need to investigate this. If there is no evidence, then I’ll fall flat on my face, but if there will be evidence, we will realize that this investigation is in fact long overdue,” Trillanes said.

He added that the corruption allegations against Binay are within the mandate of the Senate accountability committee.

“It’s part of our oversight functions to make sure all the agencies are not abusing their authority and laws are [not] being circumvented and, if so, we’ll have to find remedial measures to make sure this won’t happen again,” Trillanes said.

‘Did Makati follow rules?’

Senator Binay questioned why committee chairman Senator Teofisto Guingona III agreed to the request of Senator Aquilino Pimentel III to lead the investigation under a new sub-committee created for Trillanes’ resolution.

“The senior senators were saying the process is rather unusual because if that is our system here, then we senators can just ask to hear any resolution we feel is important and request the chairman that we will take on the work,” she said.

Pimentel, a former party mate of the Binays, had a falling out with the Vice President over the inclusion of his political rival, resigned Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, in the 2013 opposition slate.

Guingona’s staff said that the Senate rules allow the chairman to create sub-committees and delegate authority.

Pimentel also said that it is only right that he leads the investigation because of his so-called “bigger pie, bigger slice” bill, which aims to increase funding for local government units (LGUs) from national taxes. He added that he is the chair of the oversight committee on the Local Government Code, which his father, former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr, authored.

“I have to make sure corruption is minimized in the local government level. Because of this hearing on the alleged overpriced Makati parking building, we can also look at the weaknesses in the Local Government Code, bidding procedure, in the credit financing, local government borrowing, and more.”

VP to face Senate?

Pimentel and Trillanes said they will call on the complainants and the Commission on Audit to be the first witnesses on August 20. After this, they will consider whether or not there is a need to invite the Vice President to the investigation, depending on the evidence.

“Vice President Binay is the central figure here,” Trillanes said. “If we see that it merits a rebuttal from the Vice President, we will invite him and he can present his side.”

For now, Trillanes said he got hold of testimonial and documentary evidence against Binay and from his evaluation, the case has basis. He refused to elaborate on the evidence in his possession.

The senator said it is the public, not the Binays, which will assess the evidence. 

“Baka sabihin may demolition job na nangyayari. In fact ako nga dine-demolish eh. ‘Di pa ako gumagalaw, dine-demolish na ako. ‘Pag walang ebidensya, eh ‘di demolition nga,” he said.

(They might say a demolition job is underway. In fact, I am the one being demolished here. I haven’t made my move yet, but I’m already being demolished. If there’s no evidence, then it’s a demolition job.) – Rappler.com