Tension fills the Philippine Senate in Pasay City as Makati Mayor Erwin “Junjun” Binay defies orders to attend the ongoing Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee hearing Thursday. Binay was arrested and detained at the Senate for snubbing several hearings on corruption issues involving their family. Photos by Jansen Romero for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr. was forcibly brought to the session hall of the Senate on Thursday afternoon to attend the Blue Ribbon subcommittee probe on the alleged anomalies in Makati City.
Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, chairperson of the subcommittee, ordered the Senate sergeant-at-arms to bring Binay, Makati City administrator Atty. Eleno Mendoza and former Makati City administrator Marjorie de Veyra to the session hall.
Pimentel objected to the statement of Atty. Claro Certeza, legal counsel of Binay and the two others, that his clients should remain detained at the office of the Senate sergeant-at-arms until they are ready to testify.
The senator told Certeza that the reason why they were arrested and detained in the Senate was precisely to have them appear before the investigation.
Binay, Mendoza and de Veyra were detained in the Senate this morning after sergeant-at-arms Jose Balajadia Jr. served the arrest order on him.
Binay voluntarily submitted himself to Balajadia.
Their arrest was for a contempt charge after they repeatedly refused to attend the subcommittee hearings on the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 and Makati Science High School.
Aside from the three, also cited in contempt were Eudeviges "Ebeng" Baloloy, Vice President Binay's aide who allegedly received kickbacks on his behalf; Engr. Line dela Peña, Makati City engineer; and Bernadette Portollano, corporate secretary of Omni Security, a company that bagged 9 contracts worth almost P300 million from the Makati City government since 2013.
After being brought to the session hall, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV asked Binay if he was hurt, eliciting "boos" from the Makati mayor's supporters.
Binay said he was "slightly bruised" but did not need medical attention.
"Medyo napadiin po ang kapit," he later said in a press conference.
The mayor, son of Vice President Jejomar Binay, told the senators that it was never his intent to oppose the subpoena of the Blue Ribbon subcommittee.
"Hindi po natin nilalabanan ang Senado bilang institusyon," he said. "Pero meron din kaming mga karapatan na kailangan ding pakinggan."
The younger Binay insisted that he will still not participate in the hearing despite his detention, saying he already answered the senators' questions when he appeared on its first hearing.
"Wala na pong dahilan para humarap sa hearing na ito. Nasabi ko na po lahat ng dapat kong sabihin. Kaya nga po ino-oppose ko po itong proceedings na ito. I would like to respectfully manifest, Mr. Chairman, that I will no longer participate in the ongoing proceedings," he said.
"Upon the advice of my lawyers, I was advised not to attend the hearing. That is why we were firm that the order of arrest states that I be detained at the Senate sergeant-at-arms because I'm not willing to participate, Mr. Chairman," he added.
The subcommittee then allowed Binay, as well as Mendoza and de Veyra, to go. But Pimentel said there should be "cooperation in future processes."
"The order of arrest, having been satisfied, the mayor is already right before us. His manifestation is noted," he said.
"We will respect your request that you will not be asked questions anymore. You lose your chance to give us your inputs on this subject matter. Then you're free to go," Pimentel said.
The next hearing is scheduled on February 12 at 10 a.m.
'VIOLATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL, HUMAN RIGHTS'
After he was ordered released by Pimentel, the Makati mayor held a press conference, where he maintained that the subcommittee did not have the right to drag him to the session hall since the only order was for him to be arrested and detained in the office of the sergeant-at-arms.
He said the subcommittee violated his constitutional and human rights when he was bodily dragged to the session hall earlier.
"It is very clear to us that the order was that I be detained...sa Senate sergeant-at-arms office hangga't hindi ho ako pumapayag na ako ay humarap dito po sa hearing. Napakaliwanag po nun. Wala naman pong room for interpretation dun," he said.
"Nandun naman po sa order na kung ayaw ko hong sumali roon eh doon lang po ako ilalagay sa sergeant-at-arms office," he added.
Binay said he was willing to be detained longer in the Senate as he had no plans of facing the subcommittee.
"Dala ko na ho yung bag ko, nakahanda na ho ako. Tumawag po ang aking ama, sabi ko, 'Dad, palagay na ang loob ko. Laban ito ng prinsipyo...' Nagpaalam na po ko sa pamilya ko. Iniyakan na po ako ng mga anak ko kaninang umaga ulit. Kailangan pong maging matatag po tayo dahil hindi po tama ang nangyayari na dito."
Binay has repeatedly refused to appear before the Senate, saying the subcommittee's investigation, which has branched out to other allegations of corruption against the vice president, was no longer being conducted in aid of legislation.
He said he will face the Senate only if his request for advanced copies of the questions that will be asked of him during the hearings will be granted by the subcommittee.
Pimentel earlier dismissed the idea, saying resource persons do not have the right to ask for advanced questions.
"Definitely. Yes, we will answer, basta ma-satisfy itong hinihingi namin," the mayor said.
Binay said he will seek the help of the Supreme Court over his arrest and detention for contempt.
"Dadating po tayo diyan," he said. "Hindi ho ibig sabihin na ako po ay pinalaya ng subcommittee ay hindi na ho ako pwede ulit i-cite in contempt at ipa-detain po ulit."
"Kailangan na ng referee kasi nagkakaroon na nang clash ng mga opinyon dito," he added.