VICE President Jejomar Binay and his son Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay on Thursday challenged the Senate’s power to conduct an inquiry into allegations that the Makati City Hall Building 2 was overpriced.
The Binays did not attend the hearing called on the same day by a sub-committee of the Senate blue ribbon panel.
Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, the Vice President’s spokesman on political concerns, said Binay has “already brought the issues directly to the people, and answered before them these baseless and malicious allegations against him and his family.”
“The Senate is not the proper forum to answer the malicious accusations against the Vice President. Only the courts can decide on criminal liabilities,” he added.
The Makati City mayor said he will not attend the Senate hearings until his motion challenging the jurisdiction of the sub-committee is resolved by the blue ribbon committee.
Hours before the Senate hearing was to start, Binay held a news conference and announced that he, through his lawyer Claro Certeza, filed a motion to interpose jurisdictional challenge to Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, chairman of the blue ribbon committee.
The motion also seeks to quash or recall the subpoena ad testificandum issued to the mayor.
“Hanggang maresolba ang isyu na ito, karapatan ko po na pansamantalang hindi dumalo sa pagdinig sa Senado [Until this issue of jurisdiction is resolved, it is my right to not attend the Senate hearings],” the younger Binay said.
Meanwhile, Remulla said detractors of the Vice President, including some senators, wanted Binay to attend the hearing because they know their “malicious accusations” will not stand in court.
“That is why no cases against Vice President Binay have prospered,” he pointed out.
The Cavite governor earlier criticized the Senate sub-committee for allowing supposed witnesses to hurl accusations against Binay without concrete proof or evidence.
“In the final analysis, the people will render the final and most important verdict on his fitness to serve, not senators driven by their own selfish political agenda,” Remulla said.
In a letter to Senate President Franklin Drilon, Guingona and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, lawyer Martin Subido said the Vice President “welcomes any fair and impartial inquiry into the allegations made by his local political opponents, no matter how malicious, baseless and politically driven they may be.”
He noted that Mayor Binay and other Makati officials have testified and submitted all the documents requested by the sub-committee.
“The testimonial and documentary evidence justified the reasonableness of the cost incurred in constructing the Makati City Hall Building  as further confirmed by the Commission on Audit (COA) in its 10 contract and technical reviews conducted since 2008 until 2013,” Subido said.
He described the Senate inquiry as “a highly politicized forum” where baseless statements have been allowed to malign Binay and his family.
“Worse, the inquiry is being conducted to determine the criminal and administrative culpability of our client when he was still mayor of Makati City,” he said, adding that the hearing does not even have a valid legislative purpose.
On the testimony of Ernesto Aspillaga that he received handwritten notes from the Vice President and former Makati City Mayor Elenita Binay on all the bidding documents in Makati City, Remulla said there were hundreds of bids conducted during the period cited by Aspillaga “yet he admitted he doesn’t have a copy of a single note.”
“Obviously these are “imaginary notes. Why did he not reveal the existence of those notes when he was being investigated by the Ombudsman for the same biddings he mentioned in his testimony, for which he is now facing several cases before the courts? Clearly he is fabricating his testimony to avail himself of Witness Protection Program immunity,” the governor noted.
Remulla said the Senate investigation “is part of a fishing expedition that violates the constitutional rights of private individuals, and validates the position taken by Vice President Binay and Mayor Binay in his jurisdictional challenge that the hearings are not in aid of legislation but are meant to tarnish the reputation of the Vice President and his family.”