Binay asking for his day in court? | Inquirer Opinion
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Binay asking for his day in court?

Vice President Jejomar Binay should clarify his stand with regard to the role of the courts in the charges that have arisen against him (overpriced Makati buildings, Hacienda Binay, etc.) in connection with the Senate hearings. Why the need for clarification?

Well, in his speeches, he talks about answering the charges in court—not in the Senate. Well and good. But on the other hand, he is fighting, tooth and nail, any court proceedings regarding the charges against him. He even filed a suit against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, among others, including the Inquirer. He accuses the Ombudsman of being biased, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council of lying. Similar charges (without legal action) have been leveled against the Senate subcommittee.


In other words, he asks for his day in court, but has made every legal move to prevent that day from happening. Ano ba ’yan?

Of course, that is par for the course, for him… The first graft and corruption charges filed against him in the 1990s was delayed by legal maneuverings (twice he went to the Supreme Court) until finally the Sandiganbayan sometime in 2006 dismissed the charges on some technicality. That was at least 10 years ago.


This kind of delay seems to be SOP as long as litigants have the wherewithal to hire good lawyers and influence the right people. The government’s case against Lucio Tan took 22 years before a decision was made (in his favor) against all odds.

Given that kind of court delay, the Filipino voters, if they buy Binay’s ploy, will only find out, long after 2016, what kind of man they are voting for—after the damage shall have been done to the country and to themselves. Is this acceptable to us?

Which is why those Senate hearings are important, because at least we will know what kind of a man this would-be president is.

I like watching those hearings. I think I can tell whether I am being snowed under by lies or not. The demeanor of those in the hearing is important. Eyeballing a person is so much better than reading his testimony. The first subcommittee report found sufficient cause to recommend that Binay be charged with plunder. And the hearings are continuing because more evidence is coming out, showing a pattern of behavior where the chief executive and his minions appear to have cornered not only infrastructure funds, but also funds for security and janitorial services. And senior citizens. Nothing is too small to be overlooked.

Like in the construction of buildings where there was only one contractor (who, accusers say, returned the favor by building Hacienda Binay almost pro bono, at least the Binays didn’t have to pay; it was taken out of the costs of Makati structures), apparently there was also only one favored contractor for security and custodial services. Whereas Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. at least had a legitimate identity, the custodial and security services and IT services (P5.6 billion in 10 years) were owned by minions (Gerry Limlingan et al.) of the Binays. Sweet deals.

All this recent information would not have come to light had the City Hall administration not changed hands. For 28 years a Binay was in control of City Hall, so it was no problem to hide things or to “fix” things with, say, the resident COA auditors, by giving them a share of the action. But Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales suspended Junjun Binay for six months (after much grief), and Vice Mayor Kid Peña took over—and opened the records for investigation.

Two Makati City Hall officials testified, one Arturo Cruto and one Violeta Lazo—a sea change from before, where there was lack of cooperation from City Hall. Cruto testified that there were ghost senior citizens; Lazo testified to the corporate structures of the winning bidders of the security and custodial services (damning), and even IT services.


What was the immediate reaction of the Binay side? They did not dispute the issues, they attacked the witnesses. Cruto was Ernesto Mercado’s executive assistant with unliquidated accounts, and Lazo was Peña’s person whose objective was to vilify Binay. Thus their testimony was not to be believed.

From what I can gather, Cruto was never in Mercado’s staff. He was in the Makati Action Center directly under the Office of the Mayor. And I was told he is well liked by his peers because he gets things done. Which is why he was taken in by Peña.

A Mr. Ryan Barcelo, former head of the Makati social welfare department, was sent to defend the senior citizen’s program. Somewhere, I heard him say he had cleaned up the program because when he started there were some 90,000 senior citizens, and he cut the list down to 68,000. So what was Cruto talking about?

Makati has an estimated 550,000 citizens. If it followed the national age distribution pattern, 7 percent of its citizens would be 60 years old and over, which would mean 38,500 senior citizens. The 68,000 senior citizens Barcelo was talking about would mean that Makati’s senior citizens comprised 11 percent of the population. You think?

Lazo’s contribution to the general knowledge was that the contracts for services—security, janitorial and IT—had been cornered by firms whose board of directors were studded with Limlingan, Lichnock and other Binay-associated names that had popped up in previous hearings.

The Binay spokesperson never refuted this. Which means really that Makati was being sucked dry by very corrupt people. And I, a citizen of Makati for 43 years, allowed it to happen. Mea culpa.

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TAGS: Arturo Cruto, Binays, corruption, Jejomar Binay, Makati City, Ryan Barcelo, Violeta Lazo
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