• Binay must answer accusers

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    Not many expected Vice President Jejomar C. Binay to come to the Cabinet meeting last week after President B. S. Aquino 3rd said he was free to leave if he disliked the way he was running the government. They prayed he would accept the challenge, and were sorely disappointed when he did not. But I am sure some explanations are forthcoming.

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    Binay has been savaged at the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee for alleged corruption when he was still mayor of Makati, which he ran for more than 20 years. On valid constitutional grounds, he has refused to appear before the committee to answer the charges. And Senators Antonio Trillanes 4th, Alan Peter Cayetano and Aquilino Pimentel 3rd have kept the heat on, despite rising public disapproval of the rank misuse of their questionable powers.

    Some readers who have no use for constitutional and legal niceties are angry that Binay has refused to put himself under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction. They are angry that a number of independent columnists are critical of the accusers rather than the “accused.” They think that by harping upon the rule of law and the separation of powers, the columnists are actually declaring Binay immune from any possible accusation or prosecution. This is all wrong.

    The Times’ chairman recently wrote on this page that the issue here is the rule of law rather than Binay’s innocence or guilt. This is not to say that Binay’s innocence or guilt is not an issue at all–it is, but this is for an impartial judge in an impartial court to decide, not for the Senate, least of all a Senate subcommittee with his most rabid adversaries on it. We cannot miss this point even for a second.

    If we are to exist as a civilized society, we must learn to sit on a chair and eat on a table rather than sit on a table and eat on a chair; we must allow Congress to make just laws, and let our courts decide the innocence or guilt of accused persons. Since Binay has been accused—both before the Ombudsman and the bar of public opinion—-we should give him the opportunity to answer the charges. But we cannot subject him to an arbitrary process initiated by his adversaries, which at the very outset violates the Constitution and the rules of the institution hearing the allegations.

    This is the heart of the matter, from which I shall digress for the time being.

    No sensible observer can possibly believe that the use of the Senate to attack Binay is without Malacañang’s guidance, or at least consent. All the visible signs point to it. Yet nothing and no one could seem to persuade Binay that Aquino is personally involved in it. This could be mere tactic: Lee Kuan Yew once said, “to name the enemy is to make him.” And Binay does not want to name PNoy, he wants to avoid a head-on collision. But, one cannot be too careful, it could lead to a self-imposed blindness or incapacity for action.

    So Binay came to the Cabinet meeting, looking a little tired and harassed than usual, not to announce his resignation as presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ Concerns, and chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, and of the Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking, etc., but rather to reassure Aquino that he remained “a team player.”

    And in wicked appreciation, Aquino put him in charge of the slow-moving housing program in Tacloban and Eastern Visayas, which were completely disfigured by super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda last November, but which have suffered even more from the Aquino government’s studied indifference and neglect, dramatically illustrated by Aquino’s decision to visit Guiuan, Eastern Samar but to omit Tacloban next door, on the first year’s sorrowful anniversary of Yolanda’s landfall.

    This was a task Aquino had previously given to former Senator Panfilo Lacson, whom he had tried to raise to the position of “czar,” only to be demoted into “presidential assistant,” with no clear mandate or job description. Lacson has spent the past year waiting for the necessary support from the national government, but not only has the government failed to deliver, it has also failed to account for the various financial donations it has received from foreign governments, multilateral institutions, and other donors.

    Who will do what now? Who will be on top of whom? That is not very clear. But it appears that what Lacson and the various agencies tasked with recovery and rehabilitation had failed to accomplish in one year, Binay will now be expected to accomplish in two months, in time for Pope Francis’s apostolic visit to Tacloban in January 2015. Doesn’t this remind you of the Old Testament scene where King David sends Uriah the Hittite to the front so he could get killed and leave Bathsheba, his beautiful widow, to the adulterous king?

    Aquino could have found no more amazing way of dealing with his “team player” had he sent him to Liberia instead to single-handedly prevent the Ebola virus from spreading across West Africa’s borders. But even as Aquino gave additional duties to the Vice President, Binay’s accusers, all allies of Malacanang, continued to bombard him with new accusations, this time involving allegedly unexplained dollar deposits in some foreign havens.

    Should Binay therefore answer his accusers now? With or without any new charges, I say he should answer, though not in the Trillanes-Cayetano-Pimentel Blue Ribbon subcommittee investigation. He should answer on the Senate Floor, in plenary session. And he should do it, either by himself or through a Senator who has a right and a duty to speak for and in his name. This only means Sen. Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay Angeles, his eldest daughter, who was elected in 2013, will have to sharpen her tools and rise in defense of her father.

    Under the Rules of the Senate, any member may rise after the roll call, a quorum being present, to speak to a question of personal or collective privilege “affecting the rights, privileges, reputation, conduct, decorum and dignity of the Senate or of its Members as well as the integrity of its proceedings.” Only a motion to adjourn shall have precedence over such a statement.

    Certainly the attacks on the Vice President have affected the reputation of his senator-daughter, and the impropriety of the committee investigation has affected the integrity of the Senate proceedings. She has all the reasons to speak to these issues, and in the process answer the charges against her father, point by point.

    Or she could use the “privilege hour” to deliver a “privilege speech,” which is different and distinct from “the statement of personal or collective privilege,” and try to achieve the same thing. Under the Rules, a senator may speak for one hour on matters of public interest, after the Senate shall have considered the matters contained in the Calendar for Special Orders.

    Or the Vice President himself, as a Cabinet member, upon his own initiative and with the prior consent of the President, could appear before the Senate during the Question Hour, and say what he wants to say about his office; in the process, he could refer to the accusations against him. He could answer questions from the senators, under the full protection of the Rules. Under the Rules, no question shall contain arguments, include offensive or unparliamentary language or expression, or pertain to sub-judice matters. This will protect him from the boorishness of any senator.

    Alternatively, since the Binay camp has identified Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas as the principal instigator of the attacks on the Vice President, Sen. Binay could summon Roxas for the Question Hour to answer questions relative to the campaign to destroy her father. Properly executed, this could reverse the situation for Binay vis-à-vis his arch-rival.

    Indeed, the problem is not without a solution. The opportunity is there, waiting to be taken.

    fstatad@gmail.com

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    23 Comments

    1. How can Binay answer his accusers when he got no guts but only listens to his advisers. Binay’s decision to back from the the debate with Trilliantes means several things if ever he becomes president:
      1. He will be worse than GMA,
      2. He will be manipulated by his advisers or cronies, no firm decision of his own,
      3. He will do to the country what he did in Makati: expand & extend more & wider his Political Dynasty,
      4. Much money will be pocketed & corrupted by his family, cronies, friends, & all the way to Tanudbayan,
      5. Civil socity groups and the military will remove him from power as what happened to his friend Joseph Estrada,
      6. The poor remain poor & the rich richer….
      7. He will see to it that FOI & Anti-Dynasty Bills will not be passed in Congress (if these bills will not be passed in Aquino’s term).
      8. Add your own…

    2. Why is it that it is impossible to believe that a poor man can get rich without sorting into
      stealing money in the Philippines? Sa kitid ng kokoti ng mga nag aakusa kay VP BInay hindi nila matanggap na may mga taong katulad talaga ni VP BInay na pwedeng yumaman through hardwork.

    3. “Some readers who have no have no use for constitutional or legal niceties are angry.”Here are some examples of legal rulings. Erap was convicted on the Muslim Youth foundation donation of Chavit Singson which was based on one half of his testimony, but was acquitted on the tobacco tax money which was based on the other half of Chavit’s statement, violating the rule of ‘false in one, false in all.” The supreme court refused to accept the reply of Marcos in the forfeiture case against him and declared his wealth ill-gotten based on a summary judgement. Danding was made to surrender his shares in Cocobank that he acquired as commission for brokering its sale using coconut levy funds but the sellers, Cory Aquino’s family, were allowed to keep their coconut levy tainted money. Which of these adhered to the rule of law? The answer doesn’t matter because the world will not run out of lawyers who will argue both sides for eternity. The law is comprehensible enough as much of it is common sense in theory but in practice even an genius will be confounded by the perplexing twists and turns as it tries to accommodate one interest group over another depending on who is in power. Common sense which we are all born with signifying that is a divine gift says the voters whom candidate Binay is courting have the right to know everything about his fitness to lead now that he has been put under a cloud BY HIS OWN PEOPLE but his defenders prefer to abandon this gift and resorts instead to this product of human construction called rule of law. Here are two lawyer jokes: 1. If you want to go to heaven, don’t become a lawyer. 2. What do you call it if we drown 10,000 lawyers in the ocean? A good start. May God Bless this country of lawyers…

      • Tama ka diyan kabayan, ang hirap sa mga lawyers at politicians parati nilang ginagamit yang rule of law eh karamihan naman sa kanila eh alam na kung saan magtatago sa sinasabi nilang law. Kung talagang malinis yang pinagtatanggol mo eh bakit ayaw niyang magpaliwanag. Kung talagang malinis siya eh kahit pa anong tanong kaya niyang sagutin at pasinungalingan ang mga bintang sa kanya. Kaya lang eh mahirap ipaliwanag kung saan galing ang kayamnanan niya at ng pamilya niya. Hindi na kelangan ng mathematician para magsasabing nagsisinungaling siya. Sana kayong mga columnista na pilit pinagtatanggol si VP Binay eh magkaroon ng konting konsensya at awa sa mga kababayan natin.

    4. When VP Binay goes down..his dynasty will go down with him to hell and people of Makati will surely celebrate their downfall..Madam Ombudsman, please expedite your investigation on the cases filed against the Binays so that the Sandiganbayan could already start hearing the case and issue a warrant of arrest on them before the 2016 election.

      • I agree…. the OOO should expedite its investigation against the Binay before it’s too late. And I agree with the priest who is “scared” of a Binay presidency… very, very scary indeed !!!

    5. jose btaganahan on

      My question to former Senator and former dictator Marcos’ Information Minister Francisco Tatad is just plain and simple; please explain to your readers how VP Binay was transformed from a poor, orphaned high school student to a struggling human right lawyer during martial rule to a very rich man today living in mansions in posh Makati Villages and in Rosario, Batangas (with dollar accounts abroad, undeclared on his SALN) after only becoming Mayor of Makati City without any other visible source of income except his salaries as Mayor.

    6. Bise Binay should really leave PersiNoynoy’s cabinet, shouldn’t he? What is Bise Binay waiting for — the signals from Malakanyang is very loud and clear — that Bise Binay is not a team player, that in fact Bise Binay just complains but (according to PersiNoynoy) Bise Binay has not made any suggestions on next steps for the cabinet.

    7. I still think that it would be best for Mr. Binay to appear before the mother Blue or rather Yellow Ribbon Committee to declare, among other things, his disengagement from the Aquino administration. He can preface this with everything that he knows about the corruption of this dispensation. But this he must do with equal emphasis that he is no longer interested with the presidency and that he is just after saving this nation from the insanity of Noynoy Aquino that has plagued it since 2010. This is a rare opportunity that is now presented to Mr. Binay and only to him. Do it and in no time the people will mass up and end the tyranny that is Noynoy Aquino. For once be a true hero. This is the only way for Mr. Binay to redeem himself from all the sins that he has committed against the people.

    8. 1st of all if the 3 senators have broken the law in going after binay then why not use the law against them. Take them to court for breaking the law & let the courts decide if they have broken the law & if guilty then let them be punished by the law for their crimes.
      Didnt all the people testifying about the over pricing of the makati city hall say it was over priced. Now we all know in this country any building done by a politician will be over priced so they can get their kickbacks. Its well known by every single filipina in this country. So now its been bought out it has to be investigated & binay has to answer to it.
      You then say let his daughter question mar roxias as he is the person behind all this, well wouldnt he just like binay say its all fabricated against him & its politically motivated. Wont he use the exact same arguements binay is using. Plus he would say they are trying to divert attention from binays accusations.
      They have mentioned about binays overseas accounts, it seems to me they know something here, someone has given them this information. If he doesnt have any he could very easily give them permission to contact the banks concerned & for them to give an honest answer about if he does or doest hold bank accounts with them & has never owned bank accounts with them. If he has binay should give the banks permission to disclose all of the transactions involved in that account, then we will know if its a lie or not. If these senators are found to be lying then jail them for it. Ive been falsely accused before & am going through it again right now but i will prove my innocence in court in feb next year, let these people do just the same.

    9. Either VP Binay or his daughter Nancy should expound the accusation and face the accuser in the Senate unless they realize the charges are true & they cannot refute them. The more they argue, the more they are going to open up a huge closet of skeleton. The Senate BRC is just doing their job for legislative purpose. All facts will be forwarded to the Ombudsman to decide if there is plausible cause to charge them at the Sandingan Bayan.

    10. Great suggestions, Mr. Kit, dear fellow Bicolano!
      My preferred action is for Senator Binay to deliver a privileged speech and demolish the three bullies.

      • Sen. Nancy Binay cannot demolished the three Senators Trillanes, Cayetano and Pimentel, lalo silang mag-anak lulbog sa kumunoy. Si VP Binay ang sya MISMO dapat magtangal sa sarili na kanyang ipangako sa CBCP na aatend sya sa Mother Senate Blue Ribbon Committee kaya dimayado ang mga Pare at Bishop ng di nya sinipot ang hearing. Tama ang sinabi ni Senator Mirriam Santiago na quoted sa Bible ” AN INNOCENT MAN IS NOT AFRAID TO ENTER THE LION’S DEN BUT THE GUILTY FLEE “. This was what exactly VP Binay did, he went to Cebu and beg for “AWA ” from the market vendors and boys scouts. He sent instead his two trusted men with a letter and an affidavit which may have been prepared by his law office by Atty. Sibido and maybe not even been notarized.

      • maniwala ako jan….!!!!! cge ikaw nga ang pumasok sa “LION’S DEN”…kahol nga lang ng aso nanginginig ka na…!!! hehehehe..!

    11. “Alternatively, since the Binay camp has identified Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas as the principal instigator of the attacks on the Vice President, Sen. Binay could summon Roxas for the Question Hour to answer questions relative to the campaign to destroy her father. Properly executed, this could reverse the situation for Binay vis-à-vis his arch-rival.” — This is so far the best political advice, although seemingly unsolicited, for Binay and his camp to adopt and carry out. The call for question Hour should have been blared since the Binay camp came out with its Stop Nognog charges against Roxas. Apparently, this camp’s bench is shallow as it is occupied only by trumpeters, with the embattled Binay himself as its own strategist.

    12. Herman P. Hondojare on

      Dear Senator Francisco Tatad,

      You have intelligently hit the centerpiece solution that Senator Nancy Binay must defend his father VP Binay for all the hearsay corruption on her privilege speech in the Senate plenary session.

      Under the Rules of the Senate, any member may rise after the roll call, a quorum being present, to speak to a question of personal or collective privilege “affecting the rights, privileges, reputation, conduct, decorum and dignity of the Senate or of its Members as well as the integrity of its proceedings.” Only a motion to adjourn shall have precedence over such a statement.

      The Trillanes-Cayetano-Pimentel Blue Ribbon subcommittee investigation have ignored and break the Senate Rules as you have clearly stipulated.

      Under the Rules, no question shall contain arguments, include offensive or un-parliamentary language or expression, or pertain to sub-judice matters.

      God Bless The Philippines

    13. In London, New York City, Washington DC and many other places, the signs urge the population to speak up if the citizen notices some things that pose a danger.

      Are you suggesting that Sen Cayetano should have remained quiet and he should not have raised the warnings about Bise Binay kurakot with “World Class Parking”? The possibility of high-stench kurakot is a constant threat to Pilipinas governance. Hindi naman dapat ku-wayet lang.

    14. A good public servant who has Honesty and Honor, Integrity, Decency and Dignity, Empathy and Nobility with MORAL values definitely would fight against odds to protect his reputation. When you are faced with allegations confront them in court and let the rule of law takes its course. Reform and be transparent as a good public servant because you were elected to serve and not take profits from committing acts of corruption. And just remember, you only live once.

    15. Sonny Dela Cruz on

      That is the effect of FAMILY DYNASTY in the government to defend you in case you are in trouble. Nancy, the daughter senator to defend her father in the senate in a privilege speech from any accusation is not a good idea by the writer. The writer is becoming an Anti-Filipino. Do not make any suggestion on how to answer all the accusation against him, let the court handles it.

    16. Benjamin F. Cardinez, Esq. on

      Wrong on two counts. First, it’s not for the courts to decide at this instance. Binay is a declared candidate for president. The people are entitled to know everything about his integrity and character. If the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is the means for the people to know, then so be it. Second, what constitutional barrier is there for this investigation? There is no such thing.

    17. “But it appears that what Lacson and the various agencies tasked with recovery and rehabilitation had failed to accomplish in one year”

      Mr. Tatad, it will not be accomplished in one year, the United State with all it’s resources did not fix New Orleans and the neighboring towns devastated by Katrina in one year, until now years later the remnants of Katrina are still visible. Tacloban City was like New Orleans, the mayor did not prepare sufficiently and blamed the Federal government, other towns who’s mayor (like in the Philippines) did what they’re supposed to do, did better, the loss of life was lesser than expected.