Trillanes wants Drilon probe dropped
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - November 17, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV wants the Senate investigation on Senate President Franklin Drilon regarding the alleged overpriced Iloilo City Convention Center to be stopped, even if another witness has asked the Senate to be allowed to testify.

Trillanes urged Senate Blue Ribbon chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III not to conduct another hearing on the alleged anomaly after a witness bungled his testimony in the first public hearing last week.

Trillanes pointed out that the complainant, former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada, had admitted that he had no solid evidence to prove the alleged overprice.

“Even Mr. Mejorada candidly admitted that he has no evidence. Why will we scold him? He’s just telling the truth,” Trillanes said over the weekend.

The senator said that there could be a connection in the conduct of the Blue Ribbon hearing on the ICC controversy with the accusations of corruption against Vice President Jejomar Binay regarding the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall parking building.

He added that if Guingona insists on continuing with the hearings, the public might suspect that this was a maneuver of the Binay camp, Trillanes said over radio dzBB.

Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez also attended the hearing on the ICC and were candid in answering questions from the Senate panel.

The other day, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said she moved that former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco, a staunch critic of Drilon, be called as a resource person for the Senate probe on the ICC.

She said the Senate inquiry should continue even if a first witness failed to prove any anomaly in the ICC project in her hometown of Iloilo City.

In the same radio interview, Trillanes also brushed aside criticisms that the Senate Blue Ribbon committee seems “friendly” to the resource persons in the ICC probe compared to the inquiry into Makati City Hall building.

Trillanes contradicted Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, who said that the Senate committee was more aggressive and antagonistic when they questioned resource persons invited to the Makati probe.

“Maybe, they weren’t attending that was why they got the wrong assessment. But our fellow countrymen saw what happened. There were hostilities only with the resource persons lying under oath,” Trillanes said.

Trillanes was referring to businessman Antonio Tiu, who claimed ownership of an estate in Rosario, Batangas that is believed owned by Binay.

UNA hits senators

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) hit yesterday pro-administration senators for its kid-glove treatment of Drilon during the public hearing on the allegedly overpriced ICC.

UNA interim president Navotas City Rep. Toby Tiangco issued the statement amid calls from Drilon’s party mates in the Liberal Party to stop the Senate investigation on the ICC. Drilon is the vice chairman of LP.

“Why the change in demeanor? Is it because the person who is in the hot seat now is an ally?” Tiangco said.

Tiangco said it was obvious that pro-administration senators were turning a blind eye to serious corruption allegations against Drilon while they continue to persecute Vice President Binay.

He said the administration allies gave Drilon an easy time in the hearing, in contrast to the treatment of some resource persons in the Makati City Hall building II probe. The ICC is supposedly Drilon’s pet project.

“They (senators) seemed to be very kind now compared to the hearings on the Makati City Hall building II. Senate President Drilon had an easy time on the chair,” he said.

Tiangco said their party watched how the investigation was conducted to see if Drilon’s supporters would show the same “rapid and aggressive stance in ferreting out the truth.”

“If that is basketball, that is a game sold. It’s very obvious. They are the referee, the coach, and the scorer,” he said.

According to Tiangco, the way the ICC hearing was conducted was in stark contrast to how Trillanes and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano – two of Binay’s accusers in the Senate — used the panel “to intimidate, harass and threaten” resource persons in the Makati probe.

Tiangco said the people saw how the senators behaved and fawned in the presence of Drilon, who was allowed to butt in, make snide remarks and interject.

Tiangco also reacted to the statement of Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, who said Drilon had set a good example for attending the probe and answering the allegations against him.

“He’s (Drilon) really a good example to them because they know their resource person will not be harassed and humiliated, again in contrast to the other hearings,” he said.

Tiangco earlier said the ICC probe confirmed reports and documents that Drilon received at least P1 billion from the illegal Disbursement Acceleration program. – With Helen Flores

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