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Miriam: Mercado’s testimony vs. Binay is ‘evidence of high order’

Vice President Jejomar Binay will lose a ‘golden opportunity to clear himself’ on the issue of the alleged overpriced construction of Makati City Hall building II if he will refuse to attend the inquiry being conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said Wednesday.
Santiago said the committee had heard the side of the complainants “but [the senators would] not be able to hear from the defendants or the accused because he [did] not want to go.”
“If VP Binay does not honor the invitation, he would lose the opportunity to personally oppose all the statements that have been made against him in that same hearing. He lost a golden opportunity to clear himself,” Santiago said in a news briefing.
The panel has yet to decide if it will invite Binay to the hearing but Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Senator Antonio Trillanes dared the Vice President to face the probe.
Santiago added that if Binay was confident that he did nothing wrong, he would face the investigation.
“Even in the Bible, the innocent is as bold as a lion but the guilty flee. So you cannot help it. All people accused or suspected of crimes enjoy a presumption of innocence under law but it is only a presumption (which) can be overcome by evidence,” Santiago said.

Face the senators

The Vice President and his son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, have repeatedly denied benefiting from the allegedly overpriced construction of the Makati City Hall Building II.

The Binays have also maintained that the Vice President's name was being dragged into the controversy due to politics.
Santiago said if she were Binay, she would face the probe and defend herself despite the adversarial attitude of the senators.
“I will not be afraid that I might be treated rudely or might be purposely embarrassed by the presiding officers or the hostile senators because there is a provision in the Constitution and in the Rules of the Senate that the right of a person appearing in public investigation shall be respected,” Santiago said.
“He is a lawyer himself, he can always raise that point. There is no danger of that. I don’t think the Senate would tolerate two or more senators making minced meat out of a visitor otherwise no one will attend the Senate session anymore,” she added.
The senator said that the Blue Ribbon panel hearing was a trial in the forum of public opinion.
“I’m afraid, very much afraid, that television will become an element in the judgment-making process when the ordinary man or woman in the street watches TV, all  things will impact that viewer,” Santiago said.

Politically motivated
Santiago indicated that Binay should accept that the allegations against him were politically motivated.
“He called for it because immediately after he won as Vice President he announced that he is going to run as President. You’re calling on all the gods of mischief and malice upon your head,” she said.
She said she couldn't see the connection between the motivation of those making the charges and whether the accusations were true or not.
“Saka anong relasyon kung tama yun o hindi kung politically motivated. Bakit nagiging mali ba ang tama o nagiging tama ang mali? So what?” Santiago said.
She said the accusations will definitely hurt Binay’s chances come 2016.
“Oh yes (it will affect his chances) because this is trial before public opinion. It is not a formal trial with legal niceties and technicalities like in the Ombudsman and eventually the Sandiganbayan. That is the problem,” she said.

Serious damage
Santiago said the allegations of former Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado caused serious damage on Binay.
“He has done serious damage here, I must say not only as a lawyer but as a former Regional Trial Court judge. He made an admission against interest, a declaration against interest is admissible because of necessity and trustworthiness," Santiago said.

"Mercado’s testimony is also a confession which constitutes evidence of high order since it is supported by the strong presumption that no person of normal mind would deliberately and knowingly confess to a crime unless prompted by truth and his conscience,” she added.
Mercado admitted during the Blue Ribbon hearing that he had benefitted from the overpriced construction of the Makati building and hinted that Binay must also have. —NB, GMA News