MANILA, Philippines – The Senate panel on Thursday rejected the jurisdictional challenge of Makati Mayor Erwin “Junjun” Binay who questioned the Blue Ribbon Committee’s authority to summon him to a hearing on the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall building 2.
The committee is currently investigating the controversial P2.2 billion Makati City Hall building 2 and Mayor Junjun Binay was a no-show in Thursday’s proceedings.
Mayor Binay has, however, sent a letter to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee saying his objection to the continuation of the hearing and even challenging the committee which, according to him, has no jurisdictional authority to summon him to the hearing.
“Aking hinahamon ang hurisdiksyon ng sub-committee at Blue Ribbon. Naaayon po ito sa patakaran ng Senado at sa aking karapatan bilang isang mamamayan. Hanggang maresolba ang isyu na ito, karapatan ko po na pansamantalang hindi dumalo sa pagdinig sa Senado,” the Makati Mayor said.
“Bilang mayor ng Makati, marami pa akong tungkulin na dapat gampanan. Magtatrabaho po ako dahil yan ang inaasahan sa akin,” he added.
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, lead prober in the investigation, answered back to the matter raised explaining, “Under the Senate rules, this is the jurisdiction of the committee on accountability of public officers and investigations and this include all matters relating to the investigation of malfeasance, misfeasance and non-feasance in office by officers and employees of government, its branches, agencies, subdivisions and instrumentalities; implementation of the provision of the Constitution on nepotism; and investigation of any matter of public interests on its own initiative is brought to its attention by any member of the Senate.”
“It should be a member of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee who should decide if there is a jurisdictional challenge,” he added.
Senator Koko Pimentel further said that the challenge filed by Mayor Junjun Binay only applies in the normal court and not in the Senate proceedings.
Subpoena will be re-issued to Mayor Binay for the next Senate hearing on October 2.
“We will accept no excuses,” Senator Pimentel said.
Aside from Mayor Binay, those who will also be given subpoenas are Ebeng Baloloy, Gerry Limlingan, and other top officials of Makati City government.
The Blue Ribbon committee also requested for the presence of Vice President Jejomar Binay in the ongoing hearings though they will still wrap up the proceedings, with or without VP Binay.
“If VP Binay will not appear in the proceedings then we will draft a partial report even without his participation,” Senator Pimentel said.
With report from Cyra Moraleda