Trillanes: Where Binay goes, anomalies follow
MANILA, Philippines – Fresh from a months-long break, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV did not miss a beat on Thursday, January 22, at the resumption of a Senate probe into corruption allegations against Vice President Jejomar Binay.
While interrogating Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) president and CEO lawyer Darlene Berberabe, Trillanes said that even if his colleagues in the Senate were harping on about the lawyer's intergrity and good reputation, he remained a "skeptic"
Trillanes explained this was because of Binay's "pattern."
"Yung mga taong nilalagay niya [sa government positions], yung kayang i-remote control (He appoints people he can control to key positions)," said the senator.
Binay is the subject of a months-long probe which started over an alleged overpriced Makati city building.
During the Thursday hearing, however, Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee chairman Senator Aquilino Pimentel III expanded the jurisdiction of the probe: from alleged anomalies in Makati City, to supposedly shady deals in Pag-IBIG and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP).
"Kahit saan mo dalhin si Binay, nagsasanga-sanga ang anumalya (Wherever you bring Binay, anomalies manage to branch out)," Trillanes said.
The Vice President is chairman of Pag-IBIG and national president of the BSP.
Berberabe attempted to hit back at Trillanes, quizzing him on his line of questioning but was not allowed to do so, since only committee members may ask questions during Senate hearings.
The lawyer later told reporters it was "obvious" where Trillanes was heading to, implying she was protecting Binay as her principal.
Berberabe was appointed by President Benigno Aquino III in 2010 to head Pag-IBIG upon the recommendation of Binay. The lawyer's sister happens to be married to Binay's chief-of-staff.
She was called to the Senate to answer allegations that Pag-IBIG was allegedly forced into entering a deal with Omni Security, a company allegedly owned by Binay. Berberabe denied this, saying she had only tapped the services of Omni to provide her close-in security.
One of the listed owners of Omni is Hirene Lopez, wife of Tomas Lopez, a Pag-IBIG board member. Quizzed on the "conflict of interest" the situation posed, Berberabe said these issues were deliberated upon by the Pag-IBIG board.
Conflict of interest does not immediately mean possible deals cannot push through, she explained.
After Berberabe's testimony, former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado then took his turn before the Senate panel, accusing Binay of shortchanging the BSP in a deal with Alphaland.
Binay is accussed of pocketing millions from the coffers of Makati by rigging bids and kickbacks. He allegedly hid his wealth through dummies, including an estate in Batangas dubbed as "Hacienda Binay, and foreign bank accounts.
The Vice President and his camp have denied the allegations, accusing senators in the probe of using it for their political interests. – Rappler.com