Senate probe a 'bully ring' - spokesman
MANILA - Vice-President Jejomar Binay is not inclined to attend the ongoing Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee hearing on the alleged overpricing of a Makati building project simply because the inquiry is not "worthy of his office", a spokesman said Wednesday.
Speaking to Mornings@ANC, Cavite Governor and Vice Presidential Spokesman for Political Concerns Jonvic Remulla said the vice-president has yet to receive an invitation from the Senate to attend the hearing.
Even if asked, he said Binay is not inclined to attend.
"He thinks it's a bully ring. They just ask you yes or no questions... They keep on pressing you for answers that you don't want to give. The forum, the discourse, is not worthy of his office," he said.
Remulla said the vice-president is ready to answer all questions about the Makati City Hall Building 2 if senators go to the Coconut Palace and talk.
He said Binay does not want a shouting match with the senators.
"He's ready. Let them go to the Coconut Palace and talk on equal terms," he said.
Binay, his son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay and other Makati officials are facing a plunder complaint over the alleged overpricing of the Makati building project.
Experts have said the building is "ordinary" and not world class, as claimed by Mayor Binay.
In the interview, Remulla said Binay does not trust Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano since the two are also running for higher office in 2016.
Binay is running for president in the next election and may face off against Cayetano.
Remulla said Binay's own son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, was humiliated when he attend the inquiry. Specifically, he said the mayor was forced to answer a "yes" or "no" question if the building construction could be overpriced.
"The premise of the question is wrong. Of course it is possible. Anything is possible. It is trap question. If the mayor said' No, it is impossible' then they will hit him. They wanted to carry the soundbite 'Yes, it is possible,'" he said.
Remulla said the Vice-President also felt affronted by the line of questioning asked of his son and very nearly went to the Senate. He said "cooler heads intervened" and prevented Binay from coming.
"He was very affronted by the manner these senators are conducting these hearings. Binastos siya. It is not fitting for senators to do that," he said.
The spokesman said their own research has shown that the Senate is the "least trusted institution in the country, with a -19 rating."
He said the low rating came after senators were implicated in both the pork barrel and disbursement acceleration program controversies.
"More people don't believe them than believe them. I think their stench is so strong that they are trying hard to cover up the misdeeds of the past by coming up with more inane investigations, which they are doing now," he said.
He noted that many people are fed up with the Senate "with three senators going to jail and no meaningful legislation coming out."
THEY DIDN'T LOOK AT FOUNDATION
On Monday, a Senate sub-committee of the blue ribbon chaired by Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. conducted an ocular inspection of the allegedly overpriced building.
Greg Jackson, an Australian independent quantity surveyor, called the building ordinary, standard and not world-class.
"It’s a modern building of average standard, but I wouldn't consider it to be world-class standard," he told reporters
This was echoed by appraiser Federico Cuervo and architect Danilo Alano, who both said that the materials used were just ordinary.
The group noted that the building used linoleum instead of tile flooring and drywalls instead of concrete walls.
The building also had two small elevators.
For his part, Remulla said the inspection was very cursory and failed to look at the foundation work and bill of materials.
"It's all cosmetic. They look at the floor. 'Oh, this is substandard.' They didn't look at the foundation. They didn't look at what went inside the building. They didn't look at the prices in 2007 when prices tripled because of the crisis," he said.
"The bigger issue is more on the foundation, more the bill of works, more the materials used."
The spokesman earlier said a Philippine Construction Association representative had already said cassette type air conditioners used in the upper floors of Building 2 were more expensive than standard floor standing or wall type air conditioners.
He said the PCA representative also said that at the time the construction of Building 2 was started, prices of building materials were skyrocketing.
Remulla said the building project's bill of materials, bidding procedures and prices are already available but the Senate has yet to ask for these.
"They are not asking the right questions. They want the theater," he said.