MANILA – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Friday that Vice President Jejomar Binay is impeachable for betraying public trust because of his refusal to answer the corruption allegations raised against him.
“Betrayal of public trust; it’s broad enough to cover anything,” Santiago said when asked if the Senate inquiry into the allegedly overpriced P2.28-billion Makati car park had pointed to an impeachable offense by the Vice President.
“I mean you’re the Vice President. People look up to you. In case the President dies, they expect you would have the same competence and efficiency, and therefore the same level of service to the people,” Santiago told reporters.
Santiago also slammed Binay for not attending the Senate inquiry where he was accused of taking kickbacks from the construction of the Makati City car park.
“The Vice President said he’d skip the hearing because the charges are not truthful. Is that the attitude of a person [who] has been maligned? If you’ve been maligned, don’t you want to punch the other person? … Why doesn’t he want to appear there? What is his reason?” she said in her speech before the Philippine Association of Real Estate Boards Inc. at the Bellevue Hotel in Alabang.
“If you say, ‘I won’t answer the charges.’ What conclusion do you expect the public to make? If you want to be a public official, then subject yourself to all the trials and tribulations of being a public officer. Because a public official should not be thick-skinned,” she added.
She added that it is now Binay’s turn to prove his innocence by presenting his own “counter-evidence,” so that the “burden of evidence is carried out by both sides, she added.
“(The) normal reaction of an innocent person (is that) he tears at his hair, he drives himself through the roof, he shouts to high heavens for justice, and then presents his evidence,” the senator said.
Santiago however doubted that an impeachment case against Binay is possible given the time left for the next year’s presidential election.
“It seems like a physical improbability. You have to go through a sort of a preliminary investigation (by) the House of Representatives… Then they file what is in effect a complaint with the judge (that) is the collective Senate. All of that will take a lot of time, particularly since lawyers are very, very addicted to delay,” Santiago said.