The Senate blue ribbon committee on Monday recommended issuance of warrants of arrest against 14 individuals in connection with graft allegations against Vice President Jejomar Binay, noting their repeated failure to appear before its sub-committee to testify on such accusations.
Among those cited in contempt were Binay’s finance officer Gerardo Limlingan; businessman Antonio Tiu, his brother James and sister-in-law Anne Lorraine Buencamino-Tiu; Vissia Marie Aldon; Danilo Villas; Aida Alcantara; Hirene Lopez; Irene Chong; Imee Chong; Kim Tun Chong; Irish Chong; Erlinda Chong; and Kimsfer Chong.
University of Makati president and Pag-IBIG Fund board member Tomas Lopez and Mario Badillo, an engineer, were not included in the contempt raps as they promised to attend the next hearings of the blue ribbon sub-committee.
Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, chairman of the powerful committee, said the personalities were cited in contempt after they repeatedly failed to appear before the sub-committee, which has been hearing the allegations against Binay, his family and cohorts over the past several months.
The warrants would be served as soon as Senate President Franklin Drilon signs an order effecting the recommendation.
The blue ribbon committee also upheld the arrest warrants it earlier issued against three individuals: Binay’s private secretary Eduviges Baloloy, Line dela Pena and Bernadette Portallano.
Aside from their alleged involvement in the Vice President’s supposedly questionable transactions, Limlingan and Baloloy were also named in a report released by the Anti-Money Laundering Council as owners of several bank accounts, which received huge deposits and transferred large amounts to banks in Canada from 2008 to 2014.
The Court of Appeals has frozen 242 bank accounts and insurance policies belonging to Binay, some members of his family and close associates such as Limlingan and Baloloy, who are suspected of being his dummies.
Limlingan has been listed as consultant to the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) headed by Binay and member of the board of regents of the University of Makati, among other positions
Businessman Antonio Tiu, meanwhile, vowed to exhaust all legal means against “unscrupulous politicians” who have been harassing him and his family.
According to the businessman, he is not surprised by the move of the Senate blue ribbon committee to cite him in contempt, considering that he has been subjected to harassment not only by the Senate panel but also by other government agencies.
“This is purely harassment, I have appeared in Senate hearings on the Makati City Hall Building 2 [overpricing]despite the fact that it does not have anything to do with my business. I attended personally [the Senate hearings] every time there is a subpoena, so I don’t understand this,” Tiu said.
He also scored those i who have been harassing him and his family particularly the inclusion of his mother’s bank account in the freeze order of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Tiu, one of those being accused by the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee as a dummy of Binay, insisted that AMLC acted in bad faith and deliberately concealed from the Court of Appeals the truth on the transactions that allegedly warranted the inclusion of his and his companies’ bank accounts in the freeze order.
He recently received the freeze order on his bank accounts as well as on his companies, Greenergy Holdings Inc., Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp. and Earthright Holdings Inc.
Tiu said he was surprised to learn that AMLC cause the inclusion of all the bank accounts of his 70-year-old mother in the freeze order just to harass him further.
He added that he was shocked that a government agency like the AMLC allowed itself to be used by politically motivated people.
“We have been very good citizens of the country, my mother is a retiree and actively participating in charitable activities. These merciless people are trying to include my mother and we will not allow to let this pass,” the businessman said.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will help locate and arrest the 14 individuals who have been cited in contempt by the Senate blue ribbon committee.
The NBI and the Philippine National Police have been trying to serve arrest warrants against Baloloy, de la Peña and Portallano, who de Lima said are still in the country.
“There is no record with the Bureau of Immigration as to their departure from the Philippines,” she added.