By Mortz C. Ortigoza
LINGAYEN – A senator said that Vice President Jejomar Binay can be sued and imprisoned although he remains as Vice President of the country.
|Senator Alan Peter Cayetano versus Vice President Jejomar Binay|
“The vice president has confused the law. Meron lang tayong immunity from suit if it is only the president, walang immunity from suit ang vice president,” he stressed.
Cayetano rebutted the arguments of the supporters of Binay and other legal luminaries that the Vice President and the Justices of the Supreme Court are immune to suit by citing two U.S Vice Presidents and a justice of the Supreme Court who were either sued or clamped into jail.
These two then U.S Vice Presidents were Spiro Agnew and Dick Cheney.
Agnew was criminally charged in court for evasion of taxes and recipient of pay-offs. He eventually pleaded guilty after plea bargaining, meted out by the court a lighter sentence that subjected him to parole on condition that he resigns from the office, while Cheney was sued with fraud when he conspired with accounting firm Andersen during his stint as chief executive of oil services company Halliburton.
“Meron din sa U.S na justice na ayaw mag resign hindi pa na impeach pero na criminally convict na, nasa kulungan siya”.
Cayetano said he cited those U.S cases because both the U.S and the Philippines use the same law and jurisprudence on impeachment procedure.
“The Speaker of the House, Congressmen, Senator, and Vice President are not immune from suit,” he enumerated those national officials who are not covered by the immunity provided by the constitution.
He explained that the intention of the authors of the constitution to exclude the president from suit during his entire term of office is to spare him for any harassment charges filed by his political enemies.
Immunity from suit is provided in Nixon vs. Fitzgerald (457 US 731) where the US Supreme Court explains it:
“Because of the singular importance of the President’s duties, diversion of his energies by concern with private lawsuits would raise unique risks to the effective functioning of government".
Cayetano said that Binay can remain as vice president even if he is in detention.
The controversial vice president, a presidential hopeful for the 2016 polls, have been peppered by series of investigations and legal charges of non-bailable plunder and graft and corrupt practices from government bodies like the Ombudsman, Department of Justice, and the Senate for alleged stashing multi-million of pesos of public funds.
The criminal cases filed against him are predicate crimes of money laundering that allows the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) as the government's financial intelligence unit to probe financial instruments related to the commission of these crimes.
The Court of Appeals (CA) issued a freeze order on 242 bank accounts and investments of Vice President Jejomar Binay, his family, and his alleged dummies, saying it found probable cause these were related to “unlawful activities.”
According to Rappler.com, the CA resolution, copies of which were shared with the media by Binay critic Ernesto Mercado, cited the findings of the AMLC investigation that Binay, his wife Elenita, their son Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr, and alleged dummies had “large and frequent” bank transactions from 2008 to 2014.