Can Senate plunder raps stop Binay? PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 09:14



LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… maintain justice in the courts…” (Amos 5:15, the Holy Bible).

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CAN SENATE PLUNDER RAPS STOP BINAY PREXY RUN? Assuming that the Senate as a whole will approve the Blue Ribbon sub-committee report recommending the filing of plunder charges against Vice President Jejomar Binay and his son, Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay, and several others, will that mean the immediate arrest of Binay and his co-respondents, and his inability to run as president in 2016?

The clear answer should be a big “no”. First, the Senate report will still have to be forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman, for purposes of preliminary investigation. As we all know, no criminal case in this country can ever be filed in any court, including the Sandiganbayan, unless a preliminary investigation is conducted first.

Unfortunately for those who wish the Binays ill, and for those who are maneuvering to prevent him from running in 2016 in view of his continuing popularity among many Filipino voters, a preliminary investigation involving a very serious charge of plunder, against several respondents yet, could take at least one year, despite an Ombudsman whose political leanings are clearly against the Binays.

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TIMELINES IN BINAY OMBUDSMAN PROBE: Now, let us do some pencil pushing. Let us assume that it will take Senate, as a whole, to debate, and ultimately vote in favor of, the sub-committee report indicting the Binays within a period of only three months from today. That would mean that the final Senate recommendation to charge the Binays with plunder can be submitted by it to the Ombudsman around September 2015.

Then, assuming that the Ombudsman will defy its usually lethargic manner of carrying out its investigations of criminal cases and decides to fast tract things, which would obviously be the burning desire of powerful sectors trying to demolish the Binays, it can issue a subpoena to the Binays and their co-respondents after a period of only about one month from September 2015.

This would mean that by October 2015, the subpoenas for the Binays can be issued, and would then be received by them. Considering the complexity of the facts and circumstances being foisted against them in connection with this plunder charge, it would be safe to assume that the Binays maybe able to file their answers (or counter-affidavits) only by December 2015. But that is not going to be the end of the investigations yet.

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BINAY CAN RAISE POLITICAL PERSECUTION: This is without prejudice to the possibility that the Binays will first exhaust all legal remedies available to them even before they agree to submit their answers at the Ombudsman. For one, they can choose to immediately file a case with either the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals, to question the constitutionality of the investigations against them, on the ground that the charges against them constitute mere political harassment.

The core issue that the Binays can present to the courts on the matter of “political harassment” is that they are being singled out and targeted for persecution, only because the Vice President poses a threat to the candidate of the administration in 2016. This qualifies as a blatant violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution, which says that no person should be selectively prosecuted.

Indeed, the Binays can make out a grand argument along this line to contest the Senate-inspired charges against them, and show that while they are being hailed to court for plunder, administration allies and friends of the President are absolutely spared and remain untouched. If the courts are persuaded by this argument, they can stop the Ombudsman from proceeding with its investigations. More of this next issue!

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