VP Binay not immune from suit, says Cayetano
Vice President Jejomar Binay is not immune from prosecution for the alleged irregular infrastructure projects while he was mayor of Makati City, according to Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
"If you look at the United States Constitution, [on which] our Constitution was patterned, the immunity is only for the President. Other impeachable officials have none," Cayetano, the vice presidential candidate of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, told reporters Thursday.
The Commission on Audit (COA) has recommended sanctions against Binay in connection with alleged irregularities in the construction of the P2.8-billion Makati City Hall Building II, purportedly overpriced by more than P1.3 billion.
Duterte, who is running for President, said there was no more time for impeachment proceedings against Binay.
"Because it's an administrative case it's up to the Office of the Ombudsman who has jurisdiction over the case," Duterte said.
Duterte and Cayetano also said that to prevent corrupt officials from amassing illegal wealth, the bank secrecy law should not cover public officials.
Cayetano said he and Duterte would push for a measure that would compel full disclosure of bank accounts, especially of those accused of graft and corruption.
"The country's bank secrecy law, which is among the strictest in the world, has become a major stumbling block on resolving corruption and money-laundering cases supposedly committed by public officials," Cayetano said.
Cayetano said that public officials like Binay and the late Ferdinand Marcos could easily dip their hands into the nation's coffers because of the flaw in the country's legal system that allowed them to conceal their wealth through dummy accounts.
"By promoting transparency and accountability among our public servants, we can be sure that there would be no more
Binay- or Marcos-like plunder of the people's money," he said.
In Imus City, Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas said that Binay should publicly address the charges against him.
For one, Roxas said, Binay should answer why the infrastructure project with an initial budget of almost P300 million ballooned to P2.3 billion when Binay was still the mayor of Makati.
"I think it's already clear that these conclusions speak for themselves. What else can you add to this?" Roxas told reporters.
"Do you really want to vote for this person? What he did in Makati was a clear example of his brand of leadership. The Vice President is now saying that he wants to do this in the entire country. Please don't. It will be a tragedy for the country," he said in Filipino.
Roxas barnstormed vote-rich Cavite province along with his running mate, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, and local officials.
Asked if the COA report should be a gauge for voters, Roxas replied: "Absolutely."
"This is the COA. They have data, facts and figures. So for me, it's important for our countrymen to know this so that they can use it in making a decision," Roxas said, noting that the Senate had also asked the Vice President to come forward and explain his supposed involvement in the controversial project.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said the COA report confirmed the findings of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee.
"I just hope our countrymen would completely see the thievery of the Binays," he said in a statement. With reports from Marlon Ramos and Leila B. Salaverria