MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Senate on Monday ordered the body’s sergeant-at-arms to arrest Makati Mayor Erwin “Junjun” Binay and five others for their continued refusal to attend the Senate hearings on alleged corruption in the country’s premier financial district.
The order came after Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Senator Teofisto Guingona Jr. approved the recommendation to cite in contempt Binay, Eduviges “Ebeng” Baloloy, Marjorie De Veyra, lawyer Eleno M. Mendoza, Engineer Line Dela Pena, and Bernadette C. Portollano.
Makati City Science High School President Professor Tomas B. Lopez was spared after he indicated in letter received by the Senate Monday morning that he would attend future hearings.
“For the rest of the Makati official, the Senate Rules apply,” Guingona said in an interview.
Guingona on Friday issued a “final call” for Binay and other city officials to heed the summons of the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee chaired by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III to avoid being cited in contempt and arrested.
“I make this final call as an effort on my part to avert a situation where the Senate Blue Ribbon committee would have to issue an arrest order for Mayor Binay and other officials concerned,” Guingona, who heads the panel, said.
Last week, Pimentel asked Guingona to cite the mayor and six other city officials in contempt for their continued refusal to appear at hearings of his sub-committee, which last year began investigating the alleged overpricing in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building 2 but has since expanded its probe to include general allegations of corruption against Vice President Jejomar Binay and members of his family.
“The (Blue Ribbon) committee cannot and will not tolerate the refusal of such parties to obey its summons. Let it be clear that it is within the power of the committee to order their arrest and detention,” Guingona said, adding that as Blue Ribbon chairman, he was “bound by my sworn duties to protect the interest of the public and the processes of the Senate.”
“The exercise of the power to issue and arrest order is part of that protection,” he stressed.
“This is a final call. I express the hope that the sound counsel of friends and colleagues would encourage Mayor Binay and other parties concerned to heed the summons of the subcommittee,” he added.
Senate President Franklin Drilon is expected to sign the arrest warrant this afternoon. (MNS)