Binay ‘not immune from probe’

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JUSTICE Secretary De Lima on Monday maintained that Vice President Jejomar Binay’s immunity from suit does not prevent their office from launching an investigation on allegations of corruption against him.

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De Lima was reacting to criticisms that she was quick on investigating Binay while deliberately refusing to probe known administration allies such as Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad and other officials who were also accused of being involved in various anomalies.

In an interview, De Lima said while Binay is the second highest official of the land, the justice department can not just close its eyes for possible corruption charges.

“There is no such thing as immunity from investigation; there is an immunity form suit, such as impeachable officials like him, but it doesn’t mean that they could not be investigated anymore,” she explained.

“If our investigation turns out to be positive then it will fall under the grounds of impeachable offenses under the grounds set forth by the Constitution, then the impeachment process will come into play,” the Justice chief said.

She also denied that she is biased against Binay, noting that investigations have already been conducted against Purisima. She added that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is now conducting its own investigation, along with the Office of the Ombudsman, thus the DOJ no longer has to meddle into the issue.

Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda also defended the expressed openness of de Lima to help in the investigation of Binay’s supposed assets.

“First of all, why is there an involvement from the DOJ [Department of Justice]? It wasn’t because Secretary Leila de Lima on her own volition decided to investigate. That’s not correct. The Senate, in fact, asked Secretary Leila de Lima for assistance for the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] to look into the whereabouts of Mr. [Gerry] Limlingan and another person,” Lacierda explained.

He said this is not the first time that de Lima was asked to help in any Senate probe.

“If you recall, the committee hearing held by Sen. Cynthia Villar on the rice issue, she asked NBI (to help) when the name of David Bangayan came out,” the official pointed out.

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