Cayetano ridicules Binay’s representatives
A member of the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee on Friday said they are not denying Vice President Jejomar Binay his right to air his side on the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 and defend himself against other allegations, but they would not allow the 2016 presidential aspirant to mock scheduled hearings by sending in his “clowns” to represent him.
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano was reacting to claims made by lawyer JV Bautista, interim secretary general of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), that he has been flip-flopping on his statement about allowing representatives of the Vice President to speak in his behalf during hearings on the issue.
Cayetano maintained that his statement was very clear that the committee would welcome any evidence submitted by Binay that would shed light on the overpricing allegations as well as on his supposed hidden wealth.
According to the senator, the Vice President could also send in witnesses who could give testimonies to prove that there was no overpricing or that he is not the owner of an agricultural estate in Rosario, Batangas.
He, however, said the subcommittee would not allow the Vice President to send in his “clowns” whose only intent, Cayetano added, is to disrupt proceedings.
The senator was referring to the Vice President sending his representative and spokesperson to the hearing on Thursday, the same day set by the blue ribbon mother committee to hear Binay’s testimony.
The Vice President himself was expected to attend the hearing but he instead sent Bautista and Navotas City Rep.Tobias Tiangco, interim president of UNA, to represent him and read his prepared statement and signed affidavit before the committee.
“The camp of the Vice President has been calling our proceedings a circus, but it is he who is sending in clowns to the hearing,” Cayetano said in a news conference held at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City (Metro Manila).
According to the senator, the committee was willing to accept an affidavit sent by the Vice President and have it included in the records of the sub-committee but Bautista refused to give a copy of the affidavit to them after he was not allowed by the committee to read it during the proceedings.
Cayetano said the committee needs someone who could speak for the Vice President and answer questions on issues at hand, not Binay’s spokesperson, who, he added, only wants to debate and question the proceedings.
He announced that he expects the hearings of the sub-committee to last until February next year, citing budget deliberations.
Meanwhile, the Senate blue ribbon mother committee is set to start its inquiry into the allegedly overpriced P700-million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) and the P900-million Malampaya fund scam.
In a statement issued by the office of Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, chairperson of the blue ribbon committee, the hearing on the ICC, which involves Senate President Franklin Drilon, will be held on November 13, and on the Malampaya fund scam, December 1.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito had noted Guingona’s apparent disinterest in conducting the probe, expressing suspicion that the committee might be protecting officials allied with the administration.