SC won't rule yet on Binay law firm plea for TRO

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2015 04:56 PM | Updated as of Mar 25 2015 12:56 AM

MANILA - The Subido Pagente Certeza Mendoza and Binay (SPCMB) Law Offices, the law firm that represents Vice-President Jejomar Binay and dragged into controversies involving allegations of corruption against his family and allies, failed to secure an ex-parte temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court (SC) that seeks to stop the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) from proceeding with the examination of SPCMB's bank accounts.

The high court instead directed the AMLC and Court of Appeals (CA), also a respondent in the petition, to file their comment within 10 days.

Binay's daughter, Makati City Rep. Mar-len Abigail Binay, is a partner on leave at SPCMB Law.

The law firm, which represents both Binay and businessman Antonio Tiue earlier filed a 44-page petition last March 11, urging the high court to stop the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) from proceeding with its examination and scrutiny of SPCMB Law's bank accounts.

SPCMB Law asked the high court to declare unconstitutional the Anti-Money Laundering Act, in so far as it allows the examination of bank accounts "in any way related to a money laundering offense" without giving notice to the respondent(s).

SPCMB Law is crying "political harassment" -- a line employed by the Binay camp for months now amid controversies hounding the family and their associates involving the allegedly overpriced P2.7-billion Makati City Hall Building 2 and other city projects, the so-called 350-hectare "Hacienda Binay" estate, and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines-Alphaland joint project in Makati City where the vice-president allegedly received at least P200-million in kickbacks, among others.

SPCMB Law argued that its rights to privacy and due process have been violated by the AMLC and CA, as well as its lawyer-client privilege.

The petition downplayed the following grounds that it had identified as bases for the AMLC's application for the examination of its bank accounts:

- that Vice-President Jejomar Binay committed the crime of plunder and Mr. Antonio Tiu, through the latter's corporations, acted as a front or dummy for him;

- that one of the partners of the law firm is the daughter of the vice-president;

- that another partner in the law firm, Atty. Martin Subido, is the corporate secretary and general counsel of Tiu; and

- both Vice-President Binay and Tiu are clients of SPCMB Law.

AMLC intends to use the bank examination "as a tool" to establish a link that would "form the chain of testimony to convict its clients" the law firm claimed.

Aside from SPCMB Law, the AMLC's plea also covered the bank accounts of Vice-President Binay; his wife, Elenita; son and Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay; Rep. Binay; and several others.

The vice-president and Mayor Junjun Binay are facing plunder charges in connection with the allegedly anomalous Makati City Hall Building 2.

Mrs. Elenita Binay, herself a former mayor of Makati City, faces graft charges stemming from another allegedly overpriced project: the purchase of hospital beds at the Ospital ng Makati.

Tiu, who has claimed ownership of the so-called "Hacienda Binay" in Rosario, Batangas now faces a P73.34-million tax evasion case; his brother, James, and James' wife, Ann Loraine, also face a separate P39-million tax case.