A tale of two ‘overpriced’ buildings
There are two allegedly overpriced buildings being investigated by the Senate. The first is the Makati parking building, which was started when Vice President Jejomar Binay was mayor of the city and completed by his son, the incumbent mayor, Junjun Binay. The other is the still unfinished Iloilo Convention Center intended for the Apec ministerial meetings next year and sponsored by Senate President Franklin Drilon.
The whistle-blowers and complainants in both cases are the accused’s former allies who have gone the other way. The similarity ends there.
In the case of the parking building, VP Binay steadfastly refuses to face the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee investigators and answer questions to defend himself. In the case of the ICC, Drilon said he would not only face the investigators and answer all their questions but also inhibit himself in the inquiry to make it fair and so that there would be no suspicion of pressure on his colleagues.
Who is guilty and who is innocent?
As witness after witness spilled the beans on Binay, the investigation spread to the 350-hectare luxurious hacienda in Rosario, Batangas, allegedly owned, through dummies, by him. So damning is the evidence that Binay, in desperation, ran to President Aquino and asked him to stop the Senate investigation.
P-Noy called up Drilon to relay Binay’s request. Drilon answered that the Senate is composed of 24 “independent republics” and nobody, not even the President or Senate President, can tell them to stop.
Binay has denied wrongdoing. But if he is innocent, why is he so afraid of the investigation?
In fact, all these past months, he has been behaving strangely.
Every time there is a Senate hearing which he has been invited to attend as a resource person, he would fly, hide in a province where he would grant interviews with rural radio, and attack P-Noy’s administration. But he would refuse to answer reporters’ questions.
While he criticizes the administration of which he claims to be a part, he refuses to resign from his Cabinet position even after P-Noy’s pointed remark for him to leave. Pressured by public opinion, he said he would attend the Senate hearings if he is invited by the blue ribbon mother committee. So the blue ribbon chair, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, sent him an invitation. But he again hid in a province to avoid the Senate hearing.
Binay challenged Sen. Antonio Trillanes to a debate, but when the latter accepted the challenge, he tried to look for excuses to back out. As this column was being written, it was reported that he had announced that he was not going through with the debate.
If this were a court case, Binay would be declared in default and, because there is no evidence for his defense, would be pronounced guilty. Because of his queer behavior, he has been adjudged guilty by public opinion.
Some observers say that the plunder case against Drilon, a top official of the Liberal Party, is a desperate diversionary tactic of the Binay camp to shift attention from the Makati parking building to the Iloilo Convention Center. And also to pressure Drilon into stopping the Binay investigation being conducted by his colleagues. If true, not only has the tactic failed, it has also bolstered public belief that the Senate investigation will eventually find him, Binay, guilty.
Is the complainant against Drilon being used by the Binay camp? Judge for yourself: When Mayor Junjun Binay appeared at the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearing on the parking building, he called for an investigation of the Iloilo Convention Center.
The subcommittee is expected to look into other alleged irregularities in other Makati infrastructure projects. And this is probably why Binay wants to stop the investigation. An innocent person will welcome any investigation as it would find him innocent, but a guilty person would avoid it because it would inexorably find him guilty.
So afraid is the Binay camp of any investigation that it is now using innocent children to stop it. The VP’s daughter, Sen. Nancy Binay, pleaded with his critics to stop, saying that the corruption allegations against her father and her brother were affecting the VP’s grandchildren.
“I am more worried for them,” the senator said. “My siblings and I decided to enter politics. But for these children, they have no choice but to be dragged into this.”
What does the senator want, for the critics and the witnesses on massive corruption to close their eyes and mouths for the sake of Binay’s grandchildren? Their lolo should have thought of them before he committed the acts that are haunting him now. What is happening to their lolo now would be good for them in the long run. They will learn to always be good and that nobody, not even powerful officials like their lolo, can escape the long arm of the law.