MANILA (Mabuhay) – If Vice President Jejomar Binay has truth to tell, what is he afraid of?
This was the question asked by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago Wednesday as the Vice President continues to refuse to attend the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearings on the alleged overpricing in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II.
Santiago said Binay appeared to be content in defending himself by delivering speeches accusing his critics of lying.
“That is not sufficient. He must present his own evidence because, if he continues to keep silent in the Senate hearing, then I will have to cite a 2002 Supreme Court ruling: To us, respondent is not at all interested in clearing his name or simply had nothing to say in his defense,” Santiago in her speech during the Women Celebration of Life and Faith event at the Philippine Christian University in Manila.
On Binay’s apprehension that his critics and accusers will just use the Senate to humiliate him, Santiago said they cannot do it because the Constitution requires senators to respect “the rights of persons appearing in, or affected, by such inquiries.”
“Hence, I do not approve of this curious tendency to be so taciturn, in the face of such damaging charges against his moral character,” she said.
She added that the SC ruled in 1998 that “silence gives consent.”
“The natural instinct of man compels him to resist an unfounded claim or imputation and defend himself. It is totally against our human nature to just remain reticent and say nothing in the face of false accusations. Hence, silence in such cases is always construed as implied admission of truth,” Santiago quoted an SC ruling.
She also said that it is public opinion and not the Senate subcommittee, that will make a finding on whether Binay is guilty of the accusations against him.
“A Senate committee does not promulgate findings of guilt or innocence. If a criminal charge is involved, all that the committee can do is endorse the case for preliminary investigation of the criminal aspect of the case to the Ombudsman or to the Secretary of Justice,” she said.
“Hence, for me as a concerned citizen, it is essential, even vital for Binay to adduce evidence on his behalf at the Senate hearing,” said Santiago.
She further said that silence of Binay and his lawyer to present counter-evidence is alarming.
“So far, because of his repeated appearance in the Senate hearings, it is (former Vice Mayor Ernesto) Mercado who should be credited for positive testimony. His statements are based on facts supported by documents and replete with details-factors which, in jurisprudence, are considered as indicators of truth,” the senator said. (MNS)