Blue ribbon probe made VP suffer from ‘mental anguish, moral shock’
Claiming that he suffered mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, wounded feelings and moral shock, Vice President Jejomar Binay on Monday slapped his critics with a P200- million libel suit nearly a year after a Senate blue ribbon sub-committee started its investigation of his involvement in alleged overpricing of two building projects when he was mayor of Makati City (Metro Manila).
Named respondents in the damage suit filed with the Makati City Regional Trial Court were: Senators Antonio Trillanes 4th and Alan Peter Cayetano; Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales; former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado; Caloocan City (Metro Manila) Rep. Edgar Erice; Julia Bacay Abad, executive director of the Anti-Money Laudering Council (AMLC); Insurance Commissioner Emmanuel Dooc; Mario Hechanova; Renato Bondal; Nicolas Enciso 4th; the Philippine Daily Inquirer; Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr.; and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Teresita Herbosa.
Binay said he wants to be compensated with P100,000 million to alleviate his sufferings and for moral damages.
He also wants P100,000 for exemplary damages and P1 million for attorney’s fees.
Binay’s lawyer, Claro Certeza, said they have paid the P4-million filing fee.
The Binay camp has repeatedly denied allegations of corruption against them.
The Vice President has refused invitations for him to face his accusers before the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee, citing the doctrine of separation of powers, while his son was at one time arrested by Senate marshals to force him to attend committee hearings.
Bondal and Enciso–Binay’s political rivals in Makati City–filed plunder and graft charges against Mayor Binay before the Office of the Ombudsman in July last year in connection with the allegedly anomalous construction of Makati City Hall Building 2. Another graft case was filed against them involving the Makati City Science High School building project.
Both projects were bidded out and started when the elder Binay was mayor and his son was city councilor.
Acting on Trillanes’ resolution calling for an investigation of the allegations against the Binays, the Senate blue ribbon committee green-lighted the holding of public hearings, which were broadcast live on television and radio and streamed online.
The Vice President also repeatedly countered his accusers that their move was part of a massive scheme to smear him.
The 41-page complaint claimed the respondents were allegedly out to destroy the name and the reputation of the Vice President.
“Due to the political ambitions of the defendants in the coming May 2016 elections, the disdain and personal animosity of the defendants toward the plaintiff [Binay]; and/or the insatiable greed of the defendants for power and money, the defendants, acting in conspiracy and in collusion with one another, decided to blatantly and publicly malign the good name and reputation of the plaintiff.”
This is in hope that because of their “scheme and machinations,” the Vice President would either back down from the presidential race or he would lose the confidence and trust of the voters, the complaint added.
“[Binay’s] name and reputation will be so blackened from the baseless and fabricated accusations against him that he will lose the trust and confidence of the voters in the next presidential elections.”
In the complaint, Binay asked the defendants to pay him P100 million as moral damages because he suffered from “mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, wounded feelings and moral shock,” P100 million by way of exemplary damages and P1 million for litigation expenses incurred.
In the complaint, Trillanes, Cayetano and Erice were described as “attack dogs” who publicly persecuted Binay and his family.
It also tagged Mercado, Hechanova, Bondal and Enciso as the “paid witnesses” while the Inquirer was identified as the “biased media outlet” with Tetangco, Herbosa, Dooc, Abad and Carpio-Morales as the designated “government inquisitors.”
Aside from the “obvious political agenda,” the complaint also pointed out the “personal motives” of the defendants.
The complaint said Tetangco and Herbosa have direct links with the administration-backed Liberal Party while Ombudsman Carpio-Morales was tasked to use her office in conducting a preliminary investigation against him.
Binay said Cayetano fears that if he will be elected President, Taguig City (Makati City) will lose its biggest source of revenues.
Makati and Taguig are locked in a legal battle over the jurisdiction of the former Army headquarters, Fort Bonifacio.
Cayetano’s wife, Lani, and brother, Lino, are mayor and congressman respectively of Taguig City.
Binay said Trillanes has publicly admitted his deep and personal animosity against him when he allegedly backed out of his commitment to support him when he attempted to launch a rebellion against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2007.
According to him, Mercado, Hechanova, Bondal and Enciso, out of spite against him and his family, have consistently maligned him.
The Inquirer, on the other hand, allegedly played the part in conditioning public perception.
According to the complaint, it headlined “baseless accusations” against the Vice President and his family.
The Vice President also listed down the stories based on interviews of the respondents accusing him of corruption that were published by the Inquirer.
There were six front-page banner stories against Binay from August 21, 2014 to September 26, 2014, all casting “aspersions” on the Binay family.
But from October 8 to November 24, “Inquirer was relentless in bombarding the public with defamatory statements against the plaintiff.”
The complaint also mentioned that the “malicious coverage” by the Inquirer was discussed in the column of The Manila Times’ Rigoberto Tiglao, who narrated how the Inquirer “was unduly conditioning the minds of the public through fraudulent and manipulative machinations.”
WITH JACQUELINE BOUVIER ARIAS