“Pimentel, while remaining as PDP-Laban president, withdrew from the opposition ticket and instead decided to run under the administration coalition led by the President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party. “
by Ducky Paredes
Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee conducting hearings on the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 said he plans to invite Vice President Jejomar Binay as a “lone” resource person in a forthcoming hearing.
Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee chairman Aquilino Pimentel III confirmed plans of inviting the Vice President to a hearing where he would be the lone resource person.
“Ganito ang plano ko: ‘Pag tapos na lahat ng witnesses. Magse-set ako ng isang hearing, at ang imbitado lamang doon isang tao lang, walang iba kundi si Vice President Binay,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel said that Binay can refuse the invitation, and that he would not impute any meaning in it, should be choose not to appear before a hearing on the alleged overpriced building that was bidded out and began construction when he was still Makati City mayor.
The Makati City Hall Building 2, which began construction in 2007, is bleived to be overpriced by almost P2 billion.
The 11-story office and parking building is the subject of a plunder complaint filed by lawyer Renato Bondal and Nicolas Enciso VI before the Ombudsman against Vice President Binay and his son, incumbent Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.
(Unfortunately, for Makati, their former Mayor, having been elected Vice President, can no longer be charged with any crimes he may have committed as Makati mayor. As Vice President, he is now answerable only for impeachable crimes, not to anything he may have done before he was elected to the higher office. This is the reason why his whole family (Mayor son, Senator Daughter and Congresswoman Daughter) scoff at those who would blame Jojo for the overprice of the Makati City Hall building. After all, even if you could prove it, you can’t do anything since this is not a “impeachable offense” which is all that impeachable officers should worry about. Thus, it is unimportant to them whether the building’s P2.2-billion price tag, is because of the building’s “high quality”or (as claimed by the former Mayor of Makati) the city even “saved P200 million” from the contract he signed.
As now one who can only be charged with impeachable offenses, the Vice President is answerable only for impeachments that can come only from the Congress.
(Another sidelight is the “bad blood” between the Pimentels and the Vice President. Binay and Pimentel went their separate ways before the 2013 elections after PDP-Laban, then a member of the opposition coalition United Nationalist Alliance, agreed to former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri’s inclusion in the UNA senatorial slate as a member of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino. (Koko lost in the 2007 elections believing that he was cheated by the party of then President Gloria Arroyo which proclaimed Zubiri as the winner.)
Pimentel, while remaining as PDP-Laban president, withdrew from the opposition ticket and instead decided to run under the administration coalition led by President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party. (Binay had been a member of the PDP-Laban since he entered politics in the 1980s. He, however, resigned from the party earlier this year. He ran and won the vice presidency under the UNA—a coalition of the PMP and the PDP-Laban—in 2010.)
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Tomorrow, the Senate panel is set to continue the grilling of the executives of building contractor Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation, and representatives from the Commission on Audit (COA).
The panel will also test the credibility of former Makati City vice mayor Ernesto Mercado and former bids and awards committee vice chairman Engr. Mario Hechanova, who testified against the Binays in previous hearings.
In a media interviews, the Vice President and his family again brushed off the allegations against the former mayor as politically motivated and linked this to survey results showing him leading other potential candidates in the 2016 presidential race.
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Since Jojo Binay is now an “untouchable” except through impeachment, what can Senators Cayetano and Trillanes hope for in their investigation of something that Jojo Binay may have done in a past life as a municipal official, for which he can no longer be held liable having now become an impeachable officer?
The best that they can hope for is enough proof that the former Mayor made his money by stealing from the city and enriching himself in the process which would predict how he would do as the President of our country.
This would not be a bad thing for the coming elections and would even elevate the choices instead of making the coming election as just another popularity contest as most of out elections have become. We spend so much just to find out who was the most popular of the candidates.
Of course, in the last elections for our latest senators, we did have a new crop of politicos without the usual showbiz personalities winning election based only on fans’ mindless choices.
There may still be hope in this country for meaningful elections that will choose the best leaders for our country.
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Perhaps the best thing that has happened to us has been the internet and the number of our younger citizens who have become adept netizens, The fact that stories are posted on the Net can immediately checked as to facts and relevance takes a lot away from the effectiveness of rumors and professional rumor-mongers who in past elections often made a difference in the results of our elections.
Let us hope for more netizens who can make a difference for a better Philippines.
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