Philippine veep accused of roughing up police

Manila, July 2

Elderly Philippine Vice-president Jejomar Binay was accused by Manila police yesterday of roughing up officers during a brawl that left several people hurt.

The fracas broke out after police tried to serve a special prosecutor’s order suspending the vice-president’s son from his post as mayor of the Makati financial district of the city.

The suspension was ordered over a corruption case also allegedly involving his father.

“I thought I was face-to-face with a vice-president who supported the police, but it was the opposite. He mocked my being a policeman,” Senior Superintendent Elmer Jamias said of the melee, parts of which were aired on television.

“I saluted him but he didn’t return it right away. He pointed at my nameplate and said I was there only to drag him out of city hall,” Jamias told a news conference.

Police leaders said they were studying possible criminal charges against the elder Binay and his bodyguards.

The vice-president, 73, has denied he laid a hand on any police officer during the Monday night confrontation in Makati.

Television footage showed Binay, who plans to run for president in next year’s elections, angrily jabbing his forefinger at Jamias.

Other footage showed alleged Binay supporters throwing plastic chairs at a phalanx of riot police, who took cover behind their shields.

A second officer, Chief Inspector Gideon Ines, accused the elder Binay of grabbing him by the collar and the vice-president’s bodyguards of striking him on the chest.

The younger Binay was ordered suspended for six months on Monday by the Ombudsman, who is investigating both father and son over allegations they took kickbacks from contractors for a school building.

Binay’s son, Jejomar Erwin Binay, rejected the ruling as politically motivated and barricaded himself inside city hall with supporters.

Police allege the vice-president, a former Makati mayor, later went there and helped his son defy the authorities.

Surveys show the elder Binay is among the front-runners to succeed President Benigno Aquino who ends his six-year term in June next year.

The younger Binay left city hall yesterday to end the two-day standoff.