MANILA - A spokesman of Vice President Jejomar Binay on Monday said members of the ruling Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party are conspiring to discredit the vice-president before the 2016 presidential election.
Attorney JV Bautista said Oplan "Stop Nognog in 2016" is an organized take-down orchestrated by members of the LP including Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and members of the NP including Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV and other Binay accusers.
"This is a well-funded, well financed, well organized conspiracy, the principal aim of which is to destroy chances of Vice-President Binay to become next president in 2016," said Bautista.
In the interview, Bautista described Nognog as a Filipino komiks character with dark skin color.
"[Nognog] is supposed to be small and dark-skinned. If you ask any Liberal Party operative, when they speak of the vice-president, they refer to him under the code Nognog," he added.
Binay is being accused of pocketing millions of pesos in kickbacks for various Makati infrastructure projects including the P2.2 billion Makati City Hall building 2. A property appraiser earlier estimated the building should only cost P877 million to build.
Binay has refused to appear before the Senate inquiry and has answered the allegations through press conferences.
Bautista scored the senators in the Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-committee investigating the Makati City Hall Building 2 and accused them of harassing witnesses including the Commission on Audit auditors and the supposed owner of the Batangas property.
He noted that Cayetano, Trillanes, Atty. Renato Bondal and former Makati Vice-Mayor Ernesto Mercado all come from the NP.
"They all come from one political party," he said.
Asked if President Aquino knows about the alleged LP-NP conspiracy, he said: "I can't say that. This conspiracy goes all the way up only to Mar Roxas."
The UNA official said Mercado was not on a helicopter that took photos of a 350-hectare property in Batangas that is allegedly owned by the vice-president.
Instead, he claimed a graphic designer, Dexter Estacio, working for Senator Cayetano was one of five passengers on the helicopter that took photos of the property.
"He was probably the one taking the graphic illustrations...Mercado was not on that flight," he said.
Bautista said that based on a flight plan he got from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the chopper used in taking photos of the property is owned by Buddy Zamora and Eric Gutierrez.
He claimed Zamora is a financier of Roxas while Gutierrez is allegedly a mining partner of LP congressman Edgar Erice.
He also claimed that reporters gave him information about the helicopter that took pictures of the alleged "Binay property" in Batangas.
Bautista claimed Roxas and Cayetano, who are both rumored to be possible presidential contenders in 2016, are working to pull down the vice-president.
Asked why they would help each other when they could be possible rivals for the same position, he said: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend. The target of these people is to try to destroy the chances of the vice-president to become the next president in 2016. They are cooperating. This is tactical."
He also said Mercado is getting construction projects in exchange for his testimony in the Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-committee.
CONSPIRACY THEORY ABSURD: TRILLANES
Meanwhile, Senator Trillanes called Bautista's conspiracy theory "absurd."
He said Bautista should have instead presented proof the vice-president doesn't own a massive property in Batangas.
"He didn't come up with lease of sale or lease agreement, all of the other documents he could have shown to prove that property was not his. Instead, he come up with absurd conspiracy theories," he said.
Bautista said the vice-president himself will present such documents this week. He said the time and place have yet to be set.