Trillanes: Let truth come out on controversial Makati building

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

SENATOR Antonio Trillanes IV expressed optimism that the truth will come out in the ongoing investigation into the controversial multi-billion peso Makati City Hall Building 2.

"The truth must come out for the sake of this country and the Filipino people," said Trillanes who authored the resolution calling for the investigation into the alleged overpriced project.

He said the city hall building issue is just a tip of the iceberg as there are other projects implemented by the City Government that still need to be checked. These include the Ospital ng Makati, the Makati City Hall, and the Makati Science High School.

Trillanes said Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is eyeing the presidency in 2016, will not make a good president.

Binay was former mayor of Makati City, which is now headed by his son, Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr.

Binay, his son, and several Makati officials face a plunder complaint over the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building 2.

The Makati City Government allocated P2.7 billion for the construction of the building, but the complainants in the plunder case estimate that the building should only cost about P700 million.

Trillanes said that he stands for what he believes is right and he will risk even his life for what he thinks is good for his country, which he showed during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

When asked about the claim of Senator Nancy Binay that the Senate probe against the Binays were purely political, Trillanes said in his heart and as a former soldier, his country is his top priority.

He said he will not hesitate to stand his ground for what is right and moral. He insisted that he is never and will never be a political "trapo" (traditional politician) in his life.

Trillanes said what he is doing is simply part of the democratic process, "The upholding of the provisions of the Constitution on checks and balances and an assurance against the abuse of power and position."

The multi-billion peso plunder case filed against Binay and his son is even much larger than the cases filed against detained Senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jose Jinggoy Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrile at which the entire country was appalled.

"I have two reasons for this. One, the cost is too big, P2 billion. Now, actually now just comparing it with pork barrel scam, which a lot of people found to be scandalous already, it only involved around P700 million for the few senators. This one involves at least around P2 billion so that's significantly bigger," he said.

Another reason, he said, is the involvement of the Vice President of the country and a potential president.

"We should at least find out if this thing is true because if this, the Vice President gets elected as President of the Republic, then you'll have this pattern of behavior transferred from Makati to the Republic of the Philippines wherein you have right now P2.6 trillion (referring to the budget) at his disposal," Trillanes said.

He said that Binay's open declaration to run for President in 2016 has definitely elevated the issue to the national level.

"Yes. It's definitely elevated into the national consciousness aside from the scandalous amount, and, again, this is part of our oversight functions. A lot of people can’t appreciate really the role of the Senate, the checks and balance system. Part of that or a big part of the role of the senator is to oversee the proper functions of this government; and this one, the Senate investigations is just but one of the venues of that function," he said.

Trillanes further said that the Vice President himself has espoused the democratic principles of checks and balances when he expressed his own opposition to the expressed plans for Charter Change and term extension.

Responding to the charges that the investigation is a demolition job, Trillanes said that there is no wrong or right timing for investigating an anomaly.

"This thing was only finished last year and the records are kept confidential by the Makati government that’s why they had difficulty in getting information about it. So, there’s no wrong timing or good timing for an anomaly. If it attracts your attention at this very moment then that’s the moment you can act on it," he said.

Trillanes explained that each candidate aiming for the highest position should be ready to reveal himself to the public and as a senator and a citizen of this country it is an obligation to know if an applicant in Malacanang is deserving to be the next President.

"Every candidate would be and should be subjected to that. Ang binabantayan lang natin dito is yung black propaganda or just making up stories. I believe what we have shown yesterday, hindi ito ginawa. This is not a demolition job. The evidence spoke for itself. So, we let the people judge," he said.

And while he fears for a Binay-led Philippines, Trillanes said he does not fear for his future in politics should the vice president succeed in his bid to reach Malacañang.

"I am not afraid. I've been through worse. I was a senator in jail. If I abandon my country right now, no one would be able to stand up against a Binay presidency," he said.

Binay, who has long declared his intention to run for president, is currently the top choice in surveys to become the successor of President Benigno Aquino III.

On Mayor Binay's point that it was a green building, which is very expensive, Trillanes said that Mayor Binay admitted they have no certificate that it is a green building.

"Okay, assuming, granting that all of these statements are true, it costs P2 billion more still? But remember the Cuervo valuer (propriety appraiser/consultant) said that they already assumed that it was a grade A building, the P23,000 estimate that they gave. So, it’s already incorporated. Now, about the green building, I asked Mayor Junjun Binay, how can he say that it is a green building because as far as I know you need to have some kind of certificate to indicate," he said.

Trillanes said he knows for a fact that he is going against a big wall in his move to reveal the truth about the many questionable projects in Makati but his strong stand to speak on what he believes is right will never change at all.

"I saw the evidence and we’re going to present it, and if I fall short on that I am going to fall flat on my face. And I met with Attorney Renato Bondal, (who is one of the complainant) and the other witnesses and the other documents, we made sure that it will be presented in such a manner that the public will be able to judge for themselves," he said.

"And In my opinion, it was (overpriced). I filed the resolution so I had that responsibility to convince the Committee that it was a valid investigation. I needed to coordinate with the witnesses, the resource persons, and other documentary evidence.

On the poor attendanc e by senators at the blue ribbon investigation, Trillanes said he cannot speak for other senators but said that even if he stands up alone it doesn't matter, "as long as I stand up for my principle."

His colleagues in the Senate, he said, must have their own reasons, he said, or they might have prior engagements or just playing careful considering that Binay is a potential future president.

"To be fair to the other senators, most of them probably had prior engagements but let’s just say that Vice President Binay had already created this atmosphere of fear and it’s very very dangerous. Even now, as Vice President he was able to create that, how much more if this guy becomes president? Nobody would stand-up anymore?" he said.

Trillanes said that big fear factor will not cow him.

"That is my conviction but who am I in the big picture. Let's just look at it from that angle, he created so much fear even in the media, in the business sector, even some of our resource persons were convinced, coerced, intimidated, I don't know but they didn't show up," he said.

Trillanes said people may not understand now his point but he believe that in time, the truth will find a way to come out and the Filipino people know in time what he is fighting for.

"Everybody is now afraid of Vice President Binay precisely because they don't want to get on his bad side. And they know that cases would be filed against them or they be harassed, so they know that Vice President Binay is capable of doing. That's why they would rather suck-up to him now and probably later on when he becomes President they will be on his good side, but that’s a very very fearful scenario. It’s going to be a martial law type of environment wherein you cannot say anything that will piss off the sitting President," Trillanes said.

Meanwhile, Senator Binay challenged Trillanes to do the same investigation against Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, which Trillanes responded, "Bakit niya ako uutusan, senadora din naman siya, dapat mag file siya ng resolusyon para paimbestigahan sila. We are in a democracy and she is free to do that."

Binay's political allies believe the vice president's lead in the surveys has sent his political opponents scrambling to ruin his image.

Trillanes also laughed off the charges against him calling him an "attack dog" of President Aquino, saying in several instances he had expressed opposition to the Chief Executive and even criticized some of Aquino's stand, particularly in the controversial Reproductive Health Law and the K-12 program.

"Kapag tama po tayo, hindi po tayo matatakot. I will never allow myself to be used and abused by anyone. Lalo pag ang kapakanan ng bansang Pilipinas na ang pinag uusapan," Trillanes maintained. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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