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Ball is now with the people after Senate ends Binay probe



Senators Koko Pimentel, Abtonio Trillanes IV and Allan Cayetano at the final hearing, Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee on Makati anomalies. Photo from DZRH.
Senators Koko Pimentel, Abtonio Trillanes IV and Allan Cayetano at the final hearing, Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee on Makati anomalies. Photo from DZRH.

NOW that the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee has wrapped up its hearings on the alleged anomalies in Makati under the watch of the Binays, the ball is now with the Ombudsman and the Filipino people.

In his opening statement at the beginning of the 25th and last hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee Tuesday, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III as chair, assured the public that “the legislative ideas based on the evidence we have gathered as well as our findings on the two resolutions shall be forthcoming. Just to remind everyone, the subcommittee’s proceedings were undertaken in aid of legislation.”

This is to debunk criticisms of the year-long investigation as primarily a vehicle to destroy Vice President Jojo Binay, who is a presidential candidate in the 2016 elections.

The Senate investigation was triggered by two resolutions filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV in August 2014. The probe started with the alleged P1.6 Billion overpricing of the 11-Storey New Makati City Hall II Parking Building.

Like Pandora’s Box, the investigation on the parking building led to more alleged anomalies and discovery of  the mindboggling wealth of the Binays including a  sprawling hacienda in Batangas.

The investigations expanded  to include alleged overpricing the 22-Storey Makati City Hall Building, irregular transactions entered into by the Home Development Mutual Fund/PAG-IBIG Fund and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines under the leadership of Binay.

It uncovered alleged irregularities in the University of Makati Nursing Building; Makati Science High School Building; supplies for Ospital ng Makati; and University of Makati – STI Joint Venture Agreement.

Other irregularities that surfaced during the investigation included ghost employees; the award of government land to an unqualified private corporation; Meriras Realty and Development Corporation property in COMEMBO, Makati;  Makati City Senior Citizens’ Benefits;   Makati City Sister cities; Makati Friendship Suites; and  Makati Homeville.

Graft and plunder cases have been filed against Binay, his son Junjun, who was then the Makati mayor, and his associates Gerardo Limlingan, Eduviges “Ebeng” Baloloy and others.  The whereabouts of Limlingan and Baloloy have been a mystery since the report of the alleged anomalies in Makati broke out.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said earlier that the information gathered by the Senate has helped a lot in their building of the case against the Binays.

Vice President Jojo Binay campaigning in Antipolo City.
Vice President Jojo Binay campaigning in Antipolo City.

Junjun Binay has been dismissed as mayor and is perpetually barred from holding public office. The Anti-Money Laundering Council has frozen identified accounts of Binay and his associates.

Once the Ombudsman has established probable cause on the charges against Binay and his associates, the information will be filed with the Sandiganbayan. Warrants of arrest would be issued.

Legal observers said based on what have so far been reported, the vice president would be charged with graft which is bailable. He can continue with his campaign for the presidency. Junjun Binay, Limlingan and Baloloy would be included in the plunder cases, which are unbailable.

Limlingan and Baloloy have succeeded evading summons from the Senate but once warrants of arrest for them are out, the Interpol would be mobilized to find them.

In the recent survey of the Social Weather Stations, it was shown that Binay has recovered from his decline in popularity ratings during the Senate investigation last year and has taken again the lead among presidential candidates in the May 2016 elections.

Pimentel said if Binay wins the presidency, he would be immune from suits. Any charges of graft or plunder would have to wait after his term.

The Senate has done its job. It’s now up to the people.