Philippine vice-president's aides flee country amid corruption inquiry

Philippine vice-president's aides flee country amid corruption inquiry
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV
PHOTO: PDI/ANN

Two top aides of Vice President Jejomar Binay who disappeared in the midst of a Senate inquiry into corruption charges against him have fled the country and are the objects of a manhunt by the International Police, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said on Sunday.

Interviewed on dzIQ, Trillanes said he had received information from an unspecified "insider" that Binay's finance officer, Gerry Limlingan, and his longtime secretary, Eduviges "Ebeng" Baloloy, were now abroad.

"But we will make their world small. They will not be able to move around much, especially when cases will be filed against them in the Sandiganbayan and their passports are cancelled. They will have a hard time going underground," Trillanes told Radyo Inquirer.

The Senate has issued arrest warrants against Limlingan and Baloloy for snubbing hearings of its blue ribbon subcommittee into the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.

A partial report issued by the panel last month recommended plunder and graft charges against Binay, his son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, along with Limlingan and Baloloy, and several others in connection with the alleged irregularities in the construction of the parking building.

Trillanes said the information he got showed that Limlingan and Baloloy left the country after they closed bank accounts or transferred money. "When they completed what they were supposed to do, they were then hidden," he said.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council had found that Binay and his aides had cash and checking accounts amounting to P810 million in deposits and P1.629 billion in investment funds in different banks from 2007 to 2014, the Court of Appeals said in an order freezing the assets on suspicion that these were fruits of illegal activities.

In a text message to the Inquirer, Trillanes said Limlingan and Baloloy were hiding separately. "Their locations were tipped off and these will be put under surveillance," he added. "All leads are being checked out just to be sure."

Trillanes said the Senate subcommittee was scheduled to hold another hearing on July 7-its 22nd in what Binay called a continuing campaign to derail his bid for the presidency in next year's elections. The senator said there would be a witness who would make a "big revelation."

"Our people will be shocked," Trillanes said.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, who chairs the subcommittee, said he would try to conclude the panel's hearings soon.

But in a signal that the inquiry isn't going to be concluded anytime soon, Pimentel last week requested the Commission on Audit to go over the finances of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council under Binay, who has resigned as head of the agency and as presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers' affairs.

Binay, who said when he quit last week that he was through being the "punching bag" of administration allies in the Senate, dared Pimentel to "man up"-"magpakalalaki ka"-and bring on whatever he could dredge up on his activities as national shelter director.

Spokespersons for the Binay camp were not immediately available to comment on Trillanes' claims.

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