Senator Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV speaks with Former Makati Vice Mayor Nestor Mercado and Engr. Mario Hechanova. (MNS photo)

Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV speaks with Former Makati Vice Mayor Nestor Mercado and Engr. Mario Hechanova. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The secretary-general of United Nationalist Alliance on Wednesday defended Makati Mayor Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. for his failure to appear before the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee investigation on the alleged overpricing of the P2.2 billion Makati City Hall Building II.

Atty. JV Bautista said Binay’s request for a list of questions to be asked of him before appearing in the investigation is in keeping with Senate rules and the rights of those being summoned to the hearings.

He cited the petition filed before the Supreme Court by former National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) director-general Romulo Neri against the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee in 2008. There, the Supreme Court recognized that resource persons are entitled to know in advance the questions that will be asked by the committee.

“The SC decision on the Neri case pertains to the rights of the citizen in the case of a Senate investigation. The Supreme Court is very clear that the rights of the person must be protected,” he said.

“As a lawyer who upholds a citizen’s civil rights, one must have a broader view of this doctrine or principle on all resource persons appearing before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.”

Bautista said that in the Neri case, the court ruled that resource persons should be given courtesy of being informed on what pieces of legislation are supposed to be passed as a result of the investigation.

He also pointed out that Binay had already attended the Senate investigation at least twice and had fully cooperated in the investigation.

“Makati officials and Mayor Binay are functioning as government officers. They are being paid by taxpayers…They cannot waste time sitting in a four-six-hour hearing without being asked any questions at all,” he said.

He also urged the Senate Blue Ribbon mother committee to give Binay a chance to air his side on why he continues to snub the subcommittee probe.

Binay, son of Vice President and presidential aspirant Jejomar Binay, earlier said the investigation had already gone beyond the resolution filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes. He said the inquiry was not in aid of legislation but was just being used by the Senate panel to humiliate him.

Binay and six others could be cited for contempt for refusing to appear before the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee investigation on the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Building II.

In his letter to Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said Binay, University of Makati president Tomas Lopez, Ms. Eduviges Ebeng Baloloy, Marjorie de Veyra, Atty. Eleno Mendoza, Engineer Line Dela Pena, and Bernadette Portollano have refused to appear before the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee investigation.

In the letter, Pimentel said he found unacceptable that Binay repeatedly refused to appear before the subcommittee notwithstanding several summons issued.

He said Binay, through counsel, told the subcommittee that he is “merely availing of the remedies under the Senate Rules” and that he was constrained to file a jurisdictional challenge because his rights were allegedly being violated.(MNS)