MANILA – Vice President Jejomar Binay reacted strongly to the showing in Thursday’s Senate hearing of the pictures of his youngest daughter, Joanna Marie Bianca Binay, as a means to prove his ownership of a 350-hectare property in the province of Batangas.
“This is too much,” the Vice President said on Friday, as he decried the prosecution’s move of dragging his daughter into the controversy.
Via a radio interview from the province of Camarines Sur, Binay lamented: “It’s bad enough that [my own image is] being tarnished. But why involve my youngest child? They threw her among those they shame and deride. God will take care of them.”
The photos in question, which show Binay’s daughter on the controversial Batangas property, were posted on Instagram by Joanna Maria Bianca, and presented by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano during the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearing.
One photo, taken on December 25, 2013, was taken at the Batangas property main house with the caption, “Family Dinner in Batangas.”
Another photo, depicting three boys in the swimming pool, ascaptioned “our place in Batangas.”
The Instagram account bearing the username @jmblicious has since been deactivated.
Cayetano argued that the phrase written on the picture by Joanna Maria Bianca proves Binay’s ownership of the property in Rosario town.
Binay, however, said that being photographed on the property proves nothing, as far as ownership of the estate is concerned.
“What’s wrong with being photographed in that place? That place is leased and the owner accepts visitors. Is being photographed visiting the place proof that you own the place? I don’t think so,” Binay said.
On Friday, Cayetano told reporters from the Inquirer that he acted on his duty to the public by presenting the photograph.
“I never mean any disrespect nor do I drag people who are not involved. However, when it comes to the people’s money, especially billions of pesos in taxpayer money, I cannot ignore evidence. If the best evidence comes from his family, should I ignore it? Especially since their social media post was public, not private. I did not invade their privacy,” he said.
“Is she even denying that she posted that, and that her family treats the hacienda as their own?” Cayetano asked; as to whether or not Binay’s youngest daughter was denying her post about the property.
Although Cayetano expressed his agreement that one picture cannot be used to conclusively prove ownership, he said that when combined with other pieces of evidence – such as the testimony of witnesses, other pictures of various groups on the farm, plus the land titles in the names of Binay’s associates – the photo in question becomes “crucial evidence.”
“Rather than make excuses and point to evidence, why doesn’t he make a cohesive answer? That’s why he prefers a debate to a hearing. Because he keeps changing his story,” Cayetano said.