Senate hearing a ‘demolition telenovela’ replay, says Binay spokesperson

Mike Frialde - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines - Last Thursday’s hearing by the Senate on the spate of extrajudicial killings is a “replay of the demolition telenovela” staged against former Vice President Jejomar Binay, according to Binay's spokesperson.

“What we saw Thursday at the Senate was a replay of the demolition telenovela against former Vice President Jejomar Binay: every rumor, half-truth, and hearsay broadcast or published; every accusation accepted and presented as truth–complete with dramatic pauses and gestures–by some senators,” said Joey Salgado in a statement released on Thursday.

“Once again, a so-called investigation is being conducted in aid of demolition, not legislation. Once again, a political personality–this time no less than the president himself–has been declared guilty even before the start of the hearing. Once again, senators are lawyering for a witness, and the public is treated to a barrage of shocking but unsubstantiated statements on live radio and television,” Salgado added.

The lawyer said no family should go through the “harrowing experience” of the Binays at the hands of Senate inquisitors.

“But no less than President Duterte and his family have been pilloried on live television by senators with patently political motives. At mukhang warm up pa lang ito,” he added.

Salgado was apparently referring to the testimony of confessed hitman and alleged member of the vigilante group Davao Death Squad (DDS), Edgar Matobato during the joint hearing of Senate committees of justice and human rights, and public order on the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country.

In his testimony, Matobato claimed to be part of the DDS which he said, was instructed by Duterte, then Davao City mayor, to kill criminals and enemies.

Salgado also said the Senate does not have “the competence or the authority to determine criminal liability.”

“Only the courts can determine guilt or innocence, not the Senate, and especially not senators with political motives,” he said.

“Hukuman lamang ang makapagsasabi kung may kasalanan o inosente ang isang inakusahan. Ngunit asahan natin na gaya ng paninira nila kay VP Binay, pahahabain nila ito dahil ang konsepto ng rule of law at due process ay binabago ng ilang senador batay sa kanilang political agenda,” Salgado added.

Meanwhile, Salgado said that Thursday’s Senate hearing was a “page from the Liberal Party (LP) playbook, with only a minor casting change.

“Thursday's hearing is a page from the Liberal Party playbook, with a minor casting change: It's now De Lima and (Senator Antonio) Trillanes as BFFs (best friends forever), with Senator (Alan Peter) Cayetano as the spurned ex-friend,” he said.

It would be recalled that Trillanes was the one who initiated the Senate probe against Binay, while Cayetano actively participated in the hearings.

“Having said that, we cannot help but be amused by the antics of Senators Trillanes and Cayetano,” Salgado said.

“Cayetano’s conversion into a born-again advocate of due process and the rule of law is hilarious, considering that he lawyered for the accusers of VP Binay during the Blue Ribbon Sub-committee hearings. At least, Trillanes was true to form as the Session Hall bully, this time intimidating his ertswhile BFF. These two deserve each other,” Salgado added. 

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