President Benigno Aquino 3rd is not meddling with the Senate despite relaying to Senate President Franklin Drilon a request of Vice President Jejomar Binay to end its inquiry into allegations of corruption against him, a Palace official said on Thursday.
“President Aquino was simply expressing his views on the appropriate mechanisms for ferreting out the truth and for exacting accountability in a manner consistent with law,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement.
Coloma was reacting to a statement of Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd that Aquino is setting a bad precedent by asking the Senate blue ribbon committee to speed up its investigation of the corruption allegations against Binay.
Pimentel said the President should keep his hands off in the conduct of a legislative probe or he might face criticisms for interfering in the affairs of a co-equal branch of government.
On Tuesday night, Aquino called on the blue ribbon committee to present all pieces of evidence against the Vice President immediately instead of presenting them piecemeal, so that those liable could be charged and those innocent could already be cleared.
“The President has suggested that the Senate consider if its inquiry ‘has matured to go into the more formal process’ so that its efforts to address alleged anomalies in government may be brought into full fruition,” Coloma said.
“Is Senator Pimentel implying that the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice are unwilling or incapable of investigating irregularities in government?” he asked.
The Senate blue ribbon sub-committee is investigating alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building 2 and other irregularities, such as the alleged rigging of infrastructure contracts of the Makati city government when Binay was mayor.
The probe has since been expanded to include a 350-hectare estate in Rosario, Batangas, allegedly owned by Binay.
The Vice President has repeatedly denied the allegations against him, claiming his critics who have testified before the Senate sub-committee have not presented evidence that would stand in court.
He described the allegations as part of a smear job to diminish his chances in the 2016 presidential elections.