Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has called for a Senate investigation into the alleged overpriced construction of the Makati City Hall “parking building.” He has most likely been instructed by his Palace and Liberal Party allies—masters?—to help in demonizing Vice-President Jejomar Binay, who is the presidential aspirant leading everyone else in opinion surveys.
A Senate hearing would give Trillanes lots of TV time for his personal promotion. But he could also end up being punished with the unwanted consequences of looking foolish and being seen by the public, including his own fans, of obviously just grandstanding.
The senator with military provenance obviously loves to fire all his guns at the same time and, if he could, he would carpet-bomb Makati’s government installations. He has not only called for an investigation into the new 12-story City Hall 2 building, but also into old allegations against the Binays, including alleged irregularities in the construction of the older city hall building and “related anomalies” during Vice President Jejomar Binay’s term as mayor of Makati.
It is unfortunate that Trillanes is willing to waste the Senate’s time and resources to further his own political interests. The allegations that the Makati City Hall Building 2 is supposed to be overpriced have already been definitively refuted by the Commission on Audit no less. The COA, responding to a demand by complainants, intensively reviewed the processes, the contracts and the documents and found the allegations untrue.
Stupid and unprincipled is Trillanes’ stubborn insistence that the Makati City Hall Building 2 is a mere “parking building” and so is his use of the contractor’s description of the building in its website to justify the claim. An ocular inspection would show the fact that the building indeed houses offices of the Makati City government. He has, we presume made a personal visit to the building and seen the truth. Yet he insists on the “parking building” claim. This can only suggest that his conclusion has been made even before any investigation has started.
Trillanes admits that the Vice President’s presidential bid motivates his calling for the investigation. This reveals the true nature of his intentions. It is clear that his aim is not to get at the truth but to use the Senate hearing to malign the name and reputation of Jejomar Binay.
Trillanes is rumored to be eyeing the Vice Presidency, with Senator Alan Cayetano as his running mate. Interestingly, in his resolution, Trillanes also mentions, and asks the Senate to investigate, an infomercial campaign which started in 2009 allegedly using Makati funds. He was apparently alluding to the “Ganito Kami sa Makati” infomercial. If Trillanes wants this investigated, shouldn’t the Senate also investigate the infomercial of the Taguig City government touting it’s anti-corruption campaign? The same infomercial bafflingly starred, not the chief executive of Taguig, but her husband, Senator Alan Cayetano, who, in his entire political career, was never chief executive of that city.
Allegations of misuse of public funds aside, why was Senator Cayetano in the infomercial? In Binay’s case, at least he really did serve as Mayor of Makati for more than 20 years.
And while the Binays are not taking offense at the Trillanes-proposed Senate investigation, the Office of the Ombudsman should. The Ombudsman has already asked the parties to comment, meaning its investigation process has started. What will the Senate investigation accomplish that the Ombudsman cannot?
Granted that any misuse of public funds is a matter of public interest, why is the issue of the alleged overpriced building—one that the Commission on Audit has cleared—more important to the Senate than the Malampaya Fund probe that has been in limbo for quite some time now? Or that of the DAP, the documents of which DBM Secretary Florencio Abad vowed to submit to the senators in the Senate hearing about three weeks ago but has so far not done so? Or so many other national issues that need urgent attention?
No wonder the Senate has the lowest trust and satisfaction ratings in surveys. The antics of senators such as Trillanes erode the people’s trust in the Senate.
The probe Trillanes seeks is a waste of taxpayers’ money. It is not in aid of legislation, but rather, it is in aid of demolition to further the political ambitions of lightweights.