VICE President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday accused Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 4th of orchestrating the Senate hearing on the P2.2-billion Makati City Hall Building 2 to destroy him and his family and derail his presidential plans.
“The [blue ribbon]hearing is clearly a politicized forum to find criminal liability on our part but certainly it was not in aid of legislation” Binay said at a news conference in his office at the Coconut Palace in Pasay City.
He branded the hearing as a badly scripted telenovela designed to smear him and his family, and influence a survey on 2016 presidential contenders next week.
Binay has his eyes on the presidency, and so do Cayetano and Trillanes.
The Vice President reiterated that he and his family did not get a single centavo from the building’s construction or from any other projects in the city.
He insisted that all the transactions related to the project were above-board and had passed all legal processes including scrutiny by the Commission on Audit.
Binay said the project was broken down into several phases in five years because it was too big for a single year’s budget.
The P1 billion added to the project, according to him, was part of the P2.4 billion estimated for it and that they were able to save P200 million because the building cost only P2.2 billion.
He questioned the credibility of lawyer Renato Bondal, who admitted at the blue ribbon hearing to guessing the actual worth of the “overpriced” birthday cakes for Makati’s senior citizens.
The Vice President also lashed out at former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, who on Tuesday also admitted that he got kickbacks from the City Hall 2 project.
“Are these the kind of witnesses that they are using to destroy us?” Binay said.
He added that it was Mercado who raised funds and handled the transactions for the project.
The Vice President also raised the possibility that a “group” dedicated to destroying his presidential bid could be behind the attacks.
His daughter, Sen. Nancy Binay, who was being accused of supplying the birthday cakes for senior citizens, dared her fellow senators to file a case against her instead of wasting taxpayers’ money on “useless” Senate hearings.
She said the Senate is not the proper venue to investigate the
supposed overpriced building and cakes.
“This is not the right venue. If there are allegations that I’m the supplier of the cakes, file a case against me, I will submit myself to the process,” the senator said.
She accused some of her colleagues of using the blue ribbon committee to ruin other people.
“It seems that some of my colleagues in the Senate don’t want to spend their own money to gain popularity and instead use the resources of the Senate committee to be in the news,” the senator said without naming names.
These senators are also engaged in “persecution,” according to former Manila Rep. Benny M. Abante, who also on Wednesday asked his former colleagues in Congress to focus on legislation instead.
Besides, Abante said in a statement, the overpricing complaint has been filed with the Office of the Ombudsman and “it is now up to the courts to determine whether these allegations are meritorious.”
The chairman of the Bayan Mamamayan Abante Movement explained that with the 2016 national elections around the corner and the Vice President dominating the surveys, “the temptation is to use these [congressional]inquiries to influence voters by providing a venue to broadcast damning, but unproven, allegations.”
He said a moratorium on such inquiries needs to be seriously considered.
“Our people would be better served if the Senate focused on its primary purpose, which is the passage of laws,” Abante added.
The Binay camp said its political foes have become desperate that they are now resorting to “dirty tricks.”
Joey Salgado, the Vice President’s spokesman, cited a press release attributed to Mercado that was “planted” at the Senate Public Information and Media Relations Office.
The statement purportedly quoted Mercado as saying the Vice President pocketed P1.5 billion from the construction of the city hall building.
Mercado denied issuing the press release.
“Where the press release originated, nobody knows. But one thing is sure, Binay’s political opponents are now employing the services of a dirty tricks department to destroy the Vice President,” Salgado said.
The Vice President has named Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, a member of the Nacionalista Party (NP), as his political spokesman.
Senator Cynthia Villar, an NP stalwart, admitted that she was surprised by Remulla’s decision to jump ship without informing his partymates or the party leadership first.
She admitted that Remulla had informed her husband, former Sen. Manuel Villar, the NP president, of his intention to support the
candidacy of Binay.
The lawmaker shrugged off the effects of Remulla’s decision, noting that the NP remains a strong party.
Cayetano, in a separate interview, said he has no problem with Remulla’s decision to join Binay’s camp.
But he added that the Vice President does not need another spokesman to defend him from controversies.
Cayetano said what the people need to see is for Binay to stop making excuses and start explaining the Makati building issue.