BY ROGER M. BALANZA
President Benigno Aquino has asked the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee to speed up its investigation into alleged corruption against Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family and file charges if warranted by evidence.
Aquino said he wants closure to the subcommittee probe that has stolen the attention of senators and the public that otherwise could have been focused on other important issues.
Aquino, interviewed on November 11 in China where he is attending the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC), said he wants the subcommittee to wrap up its probe as “soon as possible.”
The Blue Ribbon subcommittee composed of Binay critics Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Alan Peter Cayetano and Aquilino Pimentel III, has heard witnesses and gathered evidence after 4 months of investigation that has caught into its web former Makati City Mayor Elenita Binay, the Vice President’s wife, and his son, incumbent Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay.
The senators earlier said the subcommittee has not yet completed its evidence gathering and the hearings will have to continue.
Binay has disregarded invitations by the subcommittee to attend the hearings to be able to dispute the allegations.
Binay denied the allegations of corruption and said the hearings are “demolition jobs” aimed to derail his presidential bid in 2016.
Binay is the potential presidential candidate of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of former President now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrda.
The Liberal Party of Aquino is positioning Interior Secretary Mar Roxas as its standard bearer.
Former Makati City officials led by former Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, a former Binay political ally, have testified before the subcommittee on the rigging of the award and the overpricing of the P2.2 billion 11-story Makati City Parking Building II and other city government projects when Binay was the sitting mayor of Makati City.
Mercado said Binay, his wife and son, shook down the contractor of the projects to cough up commissions of 13 percent of project cost.
Mercado has also linked the Vice President and his family to the P1.2 billion 450-hectare Hacienda Binay in Rosario, Batangas.
In his testimony during the last hearing last month of the subcommittee, Mercado presented bank documents on Binay’s alleged dollar deposits in Hong Kong banks that he said were never declared in the Vice President’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
In the China interview, Aquino noted the slow pace of the probe and the allegations and presentation of evidence are coming “in dribs and drabs.”
Aquino said he thinks the Senate hearings have distracted the senators and the public from other important issues and problems.
While it’s ongoing, the problem continues. You have to solve the problem as soon as possible, so that you can move on to the next challenge, Aquino said.
Aquino said all the evidence against Binay should already be presented so that the Senate could focus on other issues.