Special Report on the Economy

‘SC powerless to stop Binay probe’

Drilon cites separation of powers

THE  Supreme Court cannot stop the Blue Ribbon committee from hearing the alleged overpriced Makati building involving Vice President Jejomar Binay and his son, Mayor Junjun Binay and other city officials, said Senate President Franklin Drilon.

In an interview, he said the high court had no power to enjoin legislative acts.

“The principle of separation of powers dictates that we are supreme in our own sphere,” said Drilon who was a former justice secretary.

“I am just stating a principle. The separation of power would call for the Senate to continue its investigation in aid of legislation.”

The younger Binay on Thursday instructed his lawyer, Claro Certeza to write and submit a letter to the office of Drilon and members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee under chairman Senator Teofisto Guingona III to recall and cancel the subpoena compelling him to appear before the hearing.

Certeza’s letter stated that the subcommittee had prejudged the guilt of his client and other city hall officials during the initial hearings which appeared to be “not in aid of legislation”.

He said issuance of subpoena was based solely on the assertion of former Makati City vice mayor Ernesto Mercado that he allegedly delivered bags containing money to Mayor Binay and certain other individuals.

The recommendation for having Mercado into the government’s witness protection program further proves the sub-committee’s bias, he said.

“Acceptance into the said program would entitle a person to immunity from prosecution for the offense or offenses in which his testimony will be given or used,” he said.

According to Certeza, the hearings have become a “fishing expedition for evidence” where the city officials are being required to submit documents and information on projects for the past 10 years.

“The broad and general characterization as well as the sweeping descriptions of documents being required by the Honorable Sub-Committee already amount to unreasonable search and seizure proscribed under the Constitution,” he said.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV filed a resolution to look into the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building III, which  was the subject of the plunder complaint filed by losing mayoral candidate Renato Bondal and  former Bryg. Capt. Nicholas Enciso before the Ombudsman.

Although charges were already filed, Drilon said he believed the Blue Ribbon Committee had jurisdiction to hold hearings.

“But let met reiterate that the questions are in aid of legislation, not for anything else. That is consistent with the decision of the Supreme Court,” he said.

In last Thursday’s hearing, Certeza raised the issue of jurisdiction but  Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who is presiding over the senate investigation, ruled, citing “Senate rules”.

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