Senate wraps up probe on Binay family’s wealth

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Atty. Renato Bondal, one of the witnesses against Vice President Jejomar Binay, presented Binay's SALN in 2014 which amounted to P60.25 million.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines)— The Senate wrapped up its probe on corruption allegations against Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday (January 26).

This was the last chance for parties to submit evidence against him and his family.

But for Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, the evidence presented against Binay is weak.

This prompted Enrile to grill one resource person, Atty. Renato Bondal. He presented Binay's 2014 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth amounting to P60.25M.

According to Bondal, Binay's net worth increased by 2,300% since he became Mayor in 1986.

Enrile said, however, that alone does not prove corruption.

In the hearing, the senator asked Bondal: “Chineck mo ba ang exchange rate kung kailan siya nag-umpisang mayor?”

[Translation: "Did you check the exchange rate when he started as mayor?"]

In which Bondal replied, “1986… hindi ko po alam.”

[Translation: "1986… I don’t know."]

Bondal then showed joint accounts between Binay and supposed cohorts. Bondal mentioned a dummy organization supposedly used to channel money. 

But Enrile said that does not prove ill-gotten wealth, as resource persons couldn't present a complete and clear picture of a crime.

The 92-year-old lawmaker, who is also a lawyer, said the figures were misleading and wouldn't stand in court.

But Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV disagreed. For Trillanes, there’s enough evidence to pin down Binay, including charges for money laundering and tax evasion.

Trillanes said he is both happy and tired they have concluded the hearings. He also said they hope to release the final sub-committee report by next week.

Resource persons absent

Crucial resource persons failed to attend the last day of hearing for the corruption allegations against the vice president.

They included alleged dummies of Binay like Gerardo “Gerry” Limlingan Jr., Eduviges “Ebeng” Baloloy, the Chong family, and Antonio Tiu. All of them have pending arrest orders.

Senate_3_CNNPH.png Most of the resource persons invited by the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee did not attend the last day of hearing for the corruption allegations against Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family.  

Senate Sergeant at Arms M/Gen. Jose Balajadia, Jr. recounted the Senate's attempt to arrest those who have warrants.

But Balajadia reported they failed to serve the subpoenas as none of the resource persons could be found in their offices or residences.

23 arrest orders have been issued in total, but eight have been lifted.

In the 25 hearings, the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-commitee tackled a total of 14 supposedly anomalous transactions involving Binay and his alleged accomplices.

These include Makati City Hall Parking Building II, Makati City Hall Building, University of Makati Nursing building, Makati Science High School building, alleged overpricing in supplies for Ospital ng Makati, alleged irregularities in HDMF/Pag-Ibig fund, Boy Scouts of the Philippines - Alphaland joint venture, and University of Makati - STI joint venture.

Aside from these, the Senate panel also examined Makati senior citizens benefits, Makati sister cities program, Makati friendship suites, and Makati homeville.

The Senate also discussed in its inquiry involving the vice president and his family, the award of gov't land to Meriras Realty Corporation, and Hacienda Binay in Rosario Batangas.

Hearings, a waste of time and resources – Binay Camp

In a statement, the camp of Vice President Binay said the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee hearing ended with “half-truths, rehashed lies, and baseless allegations.”

Atty. Rico Quicho, vice presidential spokesperson for political affairs, said: “The sub-committee’s so-called final hearing highlighted the obvious. After 25 hearings, no credible and admissible evidence has been presented to support the outrageous allegations against the Vice President.”

Quicho added, “the hearings were just a waste of time and resources of the Senate.”

Quicho maintained that resource persons Renato Bondal and former vice mayor Ernesto Mercado have no personal knowledge on the issues they testified on.

“Mr. Bondal based his testimonies from newspaper clippings from a biased newspaper. Mr. Mercado, meanwhile, merely repeated the lies that have been peddling since the hearing started last year.”

The Vice President’s spokesperson also questioned the presence of Sen. Antonio Trillanes in the hearing.  The senator previously said he would no longer actively participate because he was already a candidate for the 2016 elections.

Quicho added, the rest of the testimonies were “just political rhetoric from a vice presidential candidate lagging behind in the surveys.”

CNN Philippines' Anna Estanislao and Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.