On Holding Binay Accountable

If Vice President Binay cannot explain his wealth, he must be held accountable.

In 2012, the nation watched as then Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, was convicted by the Senate (sitting as an impeachment court) of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Philippine Constitution. The reason? He did not fully disclose all of his assets in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

The decision was an interesting one. It meant that misdeclaration of SALN would from that point be considered an impeachable offense- a culpable violation of the Constitution. In that one decision, the Senate raised the standards of conduct for public officers.

The senator judges who voted for conviction were unanimous in sentiment. Senator Escudero said: “…mula ngayon, pwedeng nang tanggalin sa pwesto ang punong mahistrado pati na rin ang pangulo at ikalawang pangulo at iba pang impeachable officers kapag meron silang di dineklara sa kanilang SALN.” Senator Pia Cayetano: As a lawyer, to me, minor inaccuracies in the SALN, such as parking lots or a unit whose ownership is under contention, would not amount to betrayal of public trust… But, the failure to declare 2.4 million dollars and some 80 Million pesos is not minor.”

The Vice President is now hounded by the implication that he has billions in undeclared wealth: “Considerable amounts of US dollars were transferred from Philippine to Canadian banks in the years of 2008 to 2014.” The AMLC further noted that the transactions “were not commensurate to the income declared by VP Binay in his SALN for said years.”

It would be the highest form of double standard if Vice President Binay were not held to the same standards applied to the Chief Justice. The Vice President must explain his wealth. If he cannot, he must be held accountable.

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