Officials of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) cleared Senate President Franklin Drilon from any accountability on the alleged overpriced Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) ahead of an inquiry to be conducted by the Senate blue ribbon committee.
LP secretary general Mel Senen Sarmiento, LP Visayas bloc deputy chairman Jerry Treñas, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone and former Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada 3rd said the timing of the filing of plunder and graft charges against Drilon could be the handiwork of the opposition.
They noted that the filing of the charges happened after President Benigno Aquino 3rd declined Vice President Jejomer Binay’s request to stop the Senate probe on the alleged overpriced P2.2 billion Makati City Parking Building 2.
“The President did not heed Binay’s request to stop the Blue Ribbon Subcommittee investigation. Thus, we suspect the filing of the graft cases against Drilon is mere harassment to thwart the Senate’s probe of the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall and allegations of ill-gotten wealth against the Vice President,” Sarmiento said.
“The allegation hurled against Drilon, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez in connection with the construction of the yet-to-be-completed Iloilo Convention Center is only the tip of the iceberg of a wider and massive political plot to discredit President Aquino‘s anti-corruption drive,” Treñas said.
The LP officials maintained that the P700 million ICC will stand scrutiny.
“United Nationalist Alliance [UNA] is now in a “desperate situation” after the unexplained wealth of their top official and 2016 presidential candidate had been exposed and became the center of public interest. It is obvious that UNA cannot come up with a convincing explanation regarding the corruption issues hounding the Vice President that they are resorting to spiteful personality attacks to muddle the issue,” Treñas added.
UNA is led by Binay, while LP is chaired by Aquino.
Tañada echoed his comrades’ stance, noting that the LP welcomes the investigation on Drilon.
Evardone said Drilon’s role was limited to finding the needed funds to finance the project, which is part of a campaign to improve Iloilo’s capacity to host the 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministerial Meetings.
“We are confident that the public will not fall for this attempt to manipulate public opinion in order to protect the deteriorating political fortunes of Vice President Binay. These spurious fabrications should not shield the Vice President from the real issue: his unexplained refusal to answer the charges against him before the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee,” Evardone said.