SOME lawmakers at the House of Representatives and the ruling Liberal Party (LP) are not keen on pursuing moves to impeach Vice President Jejomar Binay, saying doing so will just be a waste of time.
Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas, a member of LP, noted that the allegations hurled against Binay happened when he was Makati City mayor. Some critics of the Binay family have claimed that the Makati City Hall building 2, which was built when Binay was mayor, was overpriced.
The Vice President and his son, incumbent Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr., face a plunder complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman for the allegedly overpriced P2.2-billion building.
Complainants cited National Statistics Office data supposedly showing that the cost should have only been P245.6 million.
“We are all advocates of the law. There is one legal opinion that he’s still an impeachable officer, there is also another that the alleged offense was committed at the time he was not an impeachable officer,” Treñas said.
Binay and his son, incumbent Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr., face a plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman for the allegedly overpriced building.
The Binays have repeatedly denied the accusations hurled against them, saying
they were all “politicized” and designed to malign them.
Trenas said impeaching the Vice President would only be a waste of time. He added that Congress should focus on more important matters such as the budget measure, Bangsamoro basic law and freedom of information bill.
The Senate blue ribbon committee headed by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, had investigated the allegations that the Makati building was grossly overpriced.
Cayetano and Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th of the Nacionalista Party, who have hinted of seeking higher office in 2016, have been leading the Building 2 probe.
Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez agreed that the Senate probe is politically motivated since the issue was raised seven years after the building was constructed.
“There is too much politics involved. There are proper forums to investigate the Vice President if he indeed committed a crime. I’d rather that Congress and the Senate work on nation-building and inclusive growth,” Benitez stressed.
Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar and LP Secretary General Mel Senen Sarmiento agreed with Benitez.
“We don’t have time for political mudslinging. We are focused on the President’s projects, including the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, not politics,” Sarmiento said in a statement.
“Regardless of the outcome of the Senate investigation, the Vice President also said that it’s the Ombudsman who should be handling the case and deciding whether there were anomalies or otherwise. To shift the venue from the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to the Office of the Ombudsman is basically the same as seeking impeachment,” Benitez, Chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban
Development, said during the Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum.
Evardone and Treñas, however, noted that the House cannot stop the Senate from investigating the allegedly overpriced Makati City building.
“We will respect inter-chamber courtesy. They investigate what they think is important, and the House will also investigate what it thinks is important. We will not interfere. I respect the stand of the Senate if they want to go on with their investigation,” Evardone said.
Malacañang also played coy and tossed to Congress the “impeachment process” that would remove Binay.
“Kung ang nais na maganap ay impeachment, ang prosesong ito ay nasasakop ng tungkulin at kapangyarihan ng House of Representatives [If what is to happen is the impeachment [of Binay], this process falls under the responsibility and power of the House of Representatives],” Presidential Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a news conference.
“Ipapaubaya na lang namin sa kanila kung ano ang nais nilang gawin dito, kung meron ngang panukala o resolusyon na ihaharap sa kanila hinggil dito [We are leaving it to them [congressmen]what they want to do about it, if there would be suggestions or resolutions that they would be presenting regarding the impeachment process],” Coloma added.
Binay has been candid in his ambition for the presidency right after he won the vice presidency in the 2010 elections at the 11th hour against favored and then-senator Manuel Roxas 2nd of the LP.
He remains the candidate to beat less than two years before the 2016 polls, according to a number of surveys.