VICE President Jejomar Binay on Thursday decided not to show up at a scheduled hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee on the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 because he did not expect that he would be accorded fair treatment by some members of the panel.
Binay, in a letter addressed to Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, chairperson of the Senate blue ribbon mother committee, said he really wanted to appear at the hearing in order for him to clear himself and dismiss the allegations that had been made against him by resource persons invited by the panel.
These witnesses had faced the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee led by Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 4th.
The Vice President, in his letter, said he had considered attending the proceedings upon assurance that he would be accorded utmost respect as the Vice President of the country.
Binay, however, noted that events that transpired during past hearings of the sub-committee, as well as the behavior displayed by Cayetano and Trillanes, made him doubt if the Guingona committee, this time, would treat him with respect.
The Vice President cited the October 30 hearing wherein the sub-committee refused to recognize Navotas City (Metro Manila) Rep. Tobias Tiangco, interim President of the United Nationalist Alliance, and lawyer JV Bautista, UNA interim secretary general, as his representatives.
Binay said Bautista and Tiangco were ordered out of the session hall even if they were carrying his written authorization for them to speak in his behalf.
“The behavior of Senators Cayetano and Trillanes last October 30 and during the previous hearings showed that they are not ready to listen to any explanation that would not fit their conclusion that I’m already guilty,” the Vice President said.
Binay said his appearance at the hearings would only set a bad precedent wherein the Vice President, the second highest official of the country, can be summoned to a hearing by some senators.
“Their willful [acceptance]to be part of a syndicate of deceit and their indifference to the widespread hunger, poverty, criminality and negligence of some government agencies made these senators part of the system that mocks the poor,” he added.
The Vice President decried the failure of the Senate leadership to call the attention of the two senators for violation of rights and of the law. He said Tiangco and Bautista were treated like criminals by Cayetano and Trillanes.
Binay in his letter informed the mother committee that he is submitting his affidavit containing a detailed response to the “baseless accusations and lies of his political rivals, and to the apparent bias and efforts to malign him by members of the Senate sub-committee.”
UNA officials also criticized the blue ribbon committee for disrespecting Binay by denying Tiangco and Bautista the opportunity to speak in their behalf.
Guingona, in an interview after adjourning the hearing of the mother committee, said he has no objection to a request of the Vice President that his representatives speak for him but added that other members of the panel outvoted him.
Besides Binay’s written authorization, Tiangco and Bautista went to the Senate because of an open invitation from Cayetano.
During the October 8 hearing, the senator extended his “welcome” to the Binay camp for it to send its witnesses to testify before the sub-committee.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay also on Thursday said his client should not be cited for contempt because the blue ribbon sub-committee has not acted upon their request to give the mayor a list of questions to be asked on a hearing on the Makati City Hall Building 2.
Citing the case of former Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri vs. Blue Ribbon Committee, Claro Certeza pointed out that it is the right of Mayor Binay to be informed on questions that will be asked of him during the hearing.
In the Neri case, Certeza said, the Supreme Court recognized that the former secretary was entitled to know questions that will be thrown at him by the committee.
“In all inquiries, under all circumstances, it is the right of every resource person or witness to be advised what will be the coverage and what will be the questions,” the lawyer told reporters.
On Wednesday around 5 p.m., Certeza said Mayor Binay and University of Makati President Tomas Lopez were issued a show-cause order by the sub-committee requiring them to explain why they did not attend the October 30 hearing.