TRILLANES: MAKATI BLDG 'ORDINARY'; BINAY CAMP: BIASED AND UNSUBSTANTIAL OPINION   

SEPTEMBER 2 --SENATOR Antonio Trillanes IV on Monday described Makati’s controversial City Hall Building 2 as “ordinary” after going to the site with Senator Aquilino Pimentel III to inspect it. Trillanes and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, who is presiding over the Blue Ribbon Commitee’s hearing on the allegedly overpriced building, are questioning the P2.7 billion spent for the building’s construction. Makati Mayor Junjun Binay says the 11-story building built by the city government from 2007 to 2013 is “world class.”  But Trillanes said Monday there was nothing extraordinary about the building. “This is an ordinary carpark,” he said. “There are no sensors like in the carparks in the malls. The materials used in the building were also not extraordinary.”

Senator Nancy Binay said Monday she was not surprised by Trillanes’ remarks because “he went there to criticize the building.”  “That’s their opinion, right? Is it not that it’s like beauty...It’s in the eyes of the beholder?. “Perhaps that’s also applicable to buildings. As for them, it’s not that beautiful, but for us, it’s beautiful especially if you go around the Philippines. I don’t think you can see an LGU building like this...It’s subjective.”  Binay said she had expected Trillanes’ statements because his mind had been made up even before he inspected the building. “That is expected because they already had a conclusion on the building, right?”  Binay made her statement even as Jonvic Remulla, Vice President Jejomar Binay’s spokesman, said Trillanes was biased against the building. He said Trillanes made “subjective, biased statements.”  “[The] bidding was conducted and the Commission on Audit audited the entire process and rendered a finding that there was no overpricing [on the building],” Remulla said. *READ MORE...

ALSO: MAKATI GOVT STEPS UP BUILDING DEFENSE 

SEPT 1 --THE camp of Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay yesterday reiterated the alleged overpriced 11-storey building is not just a parking building since it was designed to house the city government data center. “Makati City Hall Building 2 is not a parking building but a government office building occupied by city government departments and offices. More importantly, it was designed to house the Makati city government data center that is currently located at the old city hall building,” said Eleno Mendoza Jr., city administrator. Mendoza made the clarification in light of the allegations made by the political opponents of the Binay family, citing the Makati city hall building 2 is a mere parking building overpriced by some P2 billion. Mendoza said the building required a structural design, including the installation of very early smoke detection (VESDA) in all floors to ensure the safety of occupants and to prevent data loss.

“We have put in place the needed infrastructure, including a state-of-the-art Building Management System (BMS), to support the data center once it is transferred to building 2,” he said. Aside from VESDA, another feature of the building is the use of top-of-the-line cable system. “Because of the design of the office building and the additional load of the equipment that will be brought in upon the entry of the Makati City Government Data Center, and the everyday flow of people transacting business in various offices, the designers had to factor in a higher dynamic load, hence increasing the costs of the foundation and the building structure,” Mendoza said. Mendoza earlier said the building, completed last March 2013, is considered a green building with glass walls, panels and doors allowing natural illumination, LED lighting, and landscaped roof deck and atrium at the seventh floor. He also said bored piles and steel sheet pilings were used for the foundation of the building since it stands on an area with soft soil.*READ MORE...

ALSO: Trillanes launches new hit vs Binay 

SEPT 4 --Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV continues to insist that the ongoing investigation on the Makati City Hall parking building against Vice President Jejomar Binay was not a demolition job but his new moves suggest otherwise. Trillanes yesterday wanted practically all of the structures of the local government of Makati City, from public hospitals, schools to even covered courts, placed under the investigation by the sub-committee of the Senate blue ribbon, claiming they were all overpriced based on their documents. Binay and his son, incumbent Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr., are being made accountable on the alleged overpricing of Makati City Hall parking building, the supposed padding went as much as P1.5 billion, as claimed by Trillanes. The senator said there will be new witnesses slated to appear in the continuing proceeding scheduled today and “that is why the Vice President seems to be now in panic mode.”
Trillanes would not identify the resource person, only the fact that supposedly there will be documents and individuals who approached them and expressed willingness to testify on the issue. “Let’s see (in tomorrow’s hearing),” he told reporters in an interview.

Trillanes reiterated that the Vice President should come to the Senate to address the issues. But Binay is not inclined to attend the ongoing Senate hearing with his camp claiming the inquiry is not “worthy of his office.”  “He thinks it’s a bully ring. They just ask you yes or no questions... They keep on pressing you for answers that you don’t want to give. The forum, the discourse, is not worthy of his office,” Cavite Gov. and vice presidential spokesman for political concerns Jonvic Remulla, said in a statement. He added Binay is ready to answer all questions about the Makati City Hall Building 2 if senators go to the Coconut Palace and talk. “He’s ready. Let them go to the Coconut Palace and talk on equal terms,” he stressed. Sen. Nancy Binay backed up the idea of the Vice President, instead of her father submitting himself before the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee to testify on the allegations of his supposed involvement in the construction of the said structure, if indeed Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel and Trillanes are bent on securing his side on the issue. “At least, it’s a fair venue,” she said. Trillanes, however, immediately rebuffed the idea, insisting that the rules of the Senate to accommodate a public figure such as the Vice President, is nothing new insofar as fat as their investigative proceedings are concerned. “This has been done before with the President himself attending a Senate committee investigation, so it’s not new.” A stalwart of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), for his part, maintained that Binay need not attend the Senate hearing as part of the parliamentary courtesy being extended to two highest officials of the land – the President and the Vice President.* READ MORE...


ALSO from Manila Speaks blog: Sen. Trillanes’ motivation 

AUGUST 27 INTERVIEW --PHOTO BY PHNO FROM LIBERAL PARTY WEBSITE: We had the opportunity to interview Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on our show Kasangga Mo Ang Langit on DWIZ 882khz 6-7AM. WHAT’S THE REAL ISSUE? The Binays have already complained that the inquiry into the alleged overpriced building in Makati is Sen. Trillanes’ way to politically harass their family. This was an allegation that Sen. Trillanes denied as he cited his reasons as to why he launched the inquiry in the first place. “It was clear that at least P2 billion was earned from that building. The Commission on Audit (COA) even said that no clearance was given for that building. So who benefitted from that amount?

We know that at that the time the Mayor was VP Jejomar Binay, and now it is Mayor Junjun Binay. That’s the issue here,” he said. CHOP CHOP PROJECT? The witness in the Senate hearing used the term “chop chop” to describe the project. Sen. Trillanes explained that the project was chopped into “cheaper” parts. Meaning that even though it appeared that 5 bidders won the project, in reality they were only one. “So if P500 million was allocated for one phase, the bid of the winner was P499 million something,” he said. Even the awarding of the project to the winning bidder was fraught with alleged anomalies. What would usually take months due to the technical specifications, pre-bid conference, actual bidding, cost qualification took only two months for this building. “We saw in the PPP that usually it would take 6 months to 1 year for the contract to be really fixed. How unusual that this project only took 2 months,” he said. *CONTINUE READING...

VP Binay: Trillanes threatened witness in building probe  

AUGUST 28 --The Senate accused has become the accuser, and with good reason too. Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay yesterday accused Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV of threatening a witness at the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the alleged irregularities in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II, which a former ally turned foe, former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto, Mercado, alleged benefited the Vice President and his family. Mercado, however, offered no proof of his allegation, and admitted that he merely believes Binay must have benefited from the oevrpriced building, as he himself got kickbacks.

“Yesterday, Senator Trillanes intimidated a witness, the contractor of the building, not to testify. He also cursed the contractor,” Binay, who was Makati mayor when the building was constructed in 2007, said at a press briefing in Pasay City yesterday. He added that Trillanes, who filed the resolution that set the blue ribbon committee investigation in motion, even threatened to file a plunder complaint against the witness if he does not cooperate (in testifying against the VP). “Senator Trillanes even threatened the witness telling him that he will include him in the plunder case,” Binay said, as he reiterated that neither he nor his family received kickbacks from any Makati projects during their tenure as Makati mayor. “My family and I never benefited from any contract now or wherever,” he stressed. “Senator Trillanes tried to prevent the testimony of the contractor of the project, who, according to our information, was also maligned and threatened to be included in the plunder charge just because the said contractor’s testimony was not to their favor,” he said. “What is Senator Trillanes afraid of? *
CONTINUE READING TILL THE END PARAGRAPH WHICH IS THE FOLLOWING:

That the Palace is engaged in framing the Binays can be gleaned from the latest statement of Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Leila de Lima, who told reporters that she strongly considers placing two of the Binays’ political foes under the state witness program. The DoJ chief said her agency is ready to admit in its witness protection program (WPP) the accusers of Vice President Jejomar Binay in the overpriced construction of the multi-billion peso Makati City Hall building. De Lima said her office is still awaiting a formal request to place Renato Bondal and former Makati City Vice Mayor Mercado under coverage of WPP. The request for WPP coverage would then undergo evaluation.
“We will evaluate if there is really security threat and how valuable the testimony being offered by the witnesses,” she explained. The DoJ chief pointed out that a recommendation from an investigating body – in this case, the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee – would be given “great weight.”  She added that the NBI has not looked into the controversy, which is also now pending before the office of the Ombudsman.

ALSO: Binay camp hits Trillanes over building inspection  

AEPTEMBER 2 --While the Makati City Hall Building II may not be extraordinary, it was not overpriced, the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday said after Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV along with Senate blue ribbon subcommittee chairman Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel inspected the 11-story government building as part of its ongoing investigation into the alleged high-priced structure constructed during the term of Binay as mayor of the financial district, to determine if the materials used in the construction of the building would justify its P2.2-billion price tag.
Of the 17 committee members, only Pimentel and Trillanes made it to the actual inspection. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano was a no-show. After the inspection, Trillanes stated that contrary to Binay’s assertion the building is world-class, it contained major irregularities, citing the rolled linoleum used in the flooring, not granite; there are no ceilings in some offices; the air-conditioning is not centralized; there are wrecked tiles in the carpark; packing tape used in the side of the door in the carpark; visible cracks in some walls; and, plywood used as a wall in some facilities.

But United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general, Navotoas Rep. Toby Tiangco shrugged off Trillanes statement, saying the senator made his report as if he were an interior designer, not a lawmaker supposedly investigating an alleged anomaly. He stressed the senator’s act proved nothing substantial. “Senator Trillanes’ statement after the ocular inspection of the Makati City Hall Building II remains a subjective and unsubstantiated pronouncement, even after conducting so many hearings on the subject,” Tiangco said. “What the inspection proved is that Senator Trillanes has a misjudging eye for the quality of the materials used in the building’s construction,” he stressed. Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, Binay’s political affairs spokesman, said the building may not be extraordinary but it was not overpriced. “What is important is that the materials used are the same ones reflected in the bill of materials, bidding was conducted, and that the Commission on Audit audited the entire process and rendered a finding that there was no overpricing. Outside these issues, they are subjective, biased statements,” he said in a statement. The blue ribbon subcommittee is set to resume its hearing on the building on Thursday.*READ MORE...

ALSO: Cavite Gov Remulla joins VP Binay mediacom team  

AUGUST 28 --VICE President Jejomar Binay has reinforced his media communications plan, seeking to protect his 40 percent support among potential voters and to strengthen his lead in the 2016 presidential race. As part of these plans, Binay appointed Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla Jr. as his spokesman for political affairs amid allegations of corruption being hurled at him and his family in an ongoing Senate probe. Remulla will be working with United Nationalist Alliance Secretary General and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco and Binay’s chief of media affairs, Joey Salgado – now dubbed the “Three Shades of Gray” because of their salt-and-pepper hair. Remulla and Tiangco, along with Binay, faced the media Wednesday to address the allegations of corruption leveled by the Binays’ arch-critics Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano against him and his family. Binay also hired a foreign pollster and political strategist, David Rink, who is a brand expert. A Canadian, Rink was brought in by PR consultant Perfecto Quicho, former executive of the Hyatt Hotel. Quicho was closely identified with former President Fidel Ramos.

Remulla, a party-mate of the two senators attacking Binay, said he was not leaving the Nacionalista Party, and that he had the blessings of party president and former senator Manny Villar. “I asked Senator Villar if he has plans for 2016 and he said none yet, so I asked for his permission if I could help the Vice President parry the blows done by our party mates, Senators Trillanes and Cayetano and he said yes,” Remulla said. He said he had also discussed the job with his brothers, former House Deputy Speaker Jesus Crispin Remulla and former Cavite Rep. Gilbert Remulla, who supported his decision. “Although Senators Trillanes and Cayetano are my party mates, they, too had announced that they would be running for President or seeking higher office. Their announcement came way after Vice President Binay announced his intention to run for President. And the two senators are now subjecting the vice president to their obviously politically motivated probe when they knew for a fact that they would be the ones to benefit from it,” said Remulla. Sources in the Binay camp who requested anonymity said the hiring of Remulla was Rink’s suggestion to project and strengthen Binay’s public image that he was an executive man, who knows how to run things in government and execute laws.

“Binay tapped Remulla, who is governor of Cavite and had done a lot for that populated province, and Tiangco, who was once a mayor of Navotas. Binay himself served as mayor of Makati City, which prospered during his stint,” the source told the Manila Standard. “Binay’s media communications plan would show that Trillanes and Cayetano never held an executive position in government,” the source added. In this regard, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II had a slight edge over the two senators, the source added. “But those posts were not elective posts. He was appointed by the President to the Cabinet, just like Vice President Binay was given a Cabinet portfolio as housing czar.” The source said Binay’s potential rivals were “desperate” to bring him down because of his strong showing in opinion surveys. The source cited the Pulse Asia Inc. survey, which showed that if the presidential elections were held today, the vice president would be the runaway winner with 40 percent selecting him as their first choice. Roxas ranked fifth at six percent while Cayetano followed Roxas at seventh place. Trillanes was not in the top 10. *READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Trillanes: Makati bldg ‘ordinary’; Binay camp: Biased opinion


Inspection. Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Aquilino Pimentel III inspect the Makati Building 2 that critics claim was overpriced.

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 8, 2014 (MANILA STANDARD) POSTED SEPTEMBER 2 --By Macon Ramos-Araneta, Sara |Susanne D. Fabunan, Joel E. Zurbano and Rio N. Araja  - SENATOR Antonio Trillanes IV on Monday described Makati’s controversial City Hall Building 2 as “ordinary” after going to the site with Senator Aquilino Pimentel III to inspect it.

Trillanes and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, who is presiding over the Blue Ribbon Commitee’s hearing on the allegedly overpriced building, are questioning the P2.7 billion spent for the building’s construction.

Makati Mayor Junjun Binay says the 11-story building built by the city government from 2007 to 2013 is “world class.”

But Trillanes said Monday there was nothing extraordinary about the building.

“This is an ordinary carpark,” he said.

“There are no sensors like in the carparks in the malls. The materials used in the building were also not extraordinary.”

Senator Nancy Binay said Monday she was not surprised by Trillanes’ remarks because “he went there to criticize the building.”

“That’s their opinion, right? Is it not that it’s like beauty...It’s in the eyes of the beholder?.

“Perhaps that’s also applicable to buildings. As for them, it’s not that beautiful, but for us, it’s beautiful especially if you go around the Philippines. I don’t think you can see an LGU building like this...It’s subjective.”

Binay said she had expected Trillanes’ statements because his mind had been made up even before he inspected the building.

“That is expected because they already had a conclusion on the building, right?”

Binay made her statement even as Jonvic Remulla, Vice President Jejomar Binay’s spokesman, said Trillanes was biased against the building.

He said Trillanes made “subjective, biased statements.”

“[The] bidding was conducted and the Commission on Audit audited the entire process and rendered a finding that there was no overpricing [on the building],” Remulla said.

* In the Senate, Senate President Franklin Drilon said he was not inclined to amend the rules of the Blue Ribbon Committee as suggested by former Senator Joker Arroyo who has claimed that the Senate’s inves-tigation of the allegedly overpriced building is “one-sided.”

“First of all, the rules are proven to work,” Drilon said.

“We must remember that the Blue Ribbon committee is not a judicial proceeding, nor is it a criminal investigation. It is primarily in aid of legislation and in seeking the truth. The rules have been there and they work well.”

Meanwhile, a lawyer on Monday filed graft charges against former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado before the Ombudsman, saying he must be made to account for his alleged involvement in the case of the allegedly overpriced building.

Roderick Vera also filed graft charges against seven former Makati councilors.

Jejomar Binay’s supporters on Monday denounced what they called his persecution.

About 3,000 residents and local readers from Makati’s 33 villages trooped to the City Hall Quadrangle to protest the ongoing Senate investigation of City Hall Building 2.

“To the senators and parties out to destroy our beloved Vice President Jojo Binay, the people of Makati will fight!,” South Cembo chairman Ritchie Rodriquez said.

“We have friends and relatives in the different provinces all over the Philippines. We will never forget everything that you are doing.”

Rose Sibug, a Makati resident, appealed to the critics of the Binay family to stop spreading lies about the cost of the birthday cakes being distributed to senior citizens.

She said she had been a Makati resident since 1967 and she was appalled at the way the Binay family’s critics were twisting the truth.

A complainant has told a Blue Ribbon Committee hearing that that the cakes were priced at P1,000 each but admitted he had been making a wild guess after official documents showed that the cakes cost only P306.75.

FROM MALAYA

MAKATI STEPS UP BUILDING DEFENSE By Evan Orias | September 01, 2014 MALAYA

THE camp of Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay yesterday reiterated the alleged overpriced 11-storey building is not just a parking building since it was designed to house the city government data center.

“Makati City Hall Building 2 is not a parking building but a government office building occupied by city government departments and offices. More importantly, it was designed to house the Makati city government data center that is currently located at the old city hall building,” said Eleno Mendoza Jr., city administrator.

Mendoza made the clarification in light of the allegations made by the political opponents of the Binay family, citing the Makati city hall building 2 is a mere parking building overpriced by some P2 billion.

Mendoza said the building required a structural design, including the installation of very early smoke detection (VESDA) in all floors to ensure the safety of occupants and to prevent data loss.

“We have put in place the needed infrastructure, including a state-of-the-art Building Management System (BMS), to support the data center once it is transferred to building 2,” he said.

Aside from VESDA, another feature of the building is the use of top-of-the-line cable system.

“Because of the design of the office building and the additional load of the equipment that will be brought in upon the entry of the Makati City Government Data Center, and the everyday flow of people transacting business in various offices, the designers had to factor in a higher dynamic load, hence increasing the costs of the foundation and the building structure,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza earlier said the building, completed last March 2013, is considered a green building with glass walls, panels and doors allowing natural illumination, LED lighting, and landscaped roof deck and atrium at the seventh floor.

He also said bored piles and steel sheet pilings were used for the foundation of the building since it stands on an area with soft soil.

* He said the technical audit personnel of the Commission on Audit have validated the need to strengthen the foundation of the building, citing that structures with parking areas require a different design since it is subjected to heavier and moving loads.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV had earlier filed a resolution seeking a Senate probe into the alleged overpriced Makati city hall building 2, the subject of a plunder complaint filed by Renato Bondal before the Office of the Ombudsman against Mayor Binay and Vice President Binay.

The Senate Blue Ribbon committee is set to conduct an ocular inspection of the Makati city hall building 2 today.

The building, which covers a total floor area of 33,651.46 square meters, has centralized air conditioning, two elevators, conference rooms and mini-function rooms, and well-appointed public restrooms on the ground floor and from the seventh to eleventh floors. It also has a public address system and a security room where CCTV cameras installed on every floor.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Trillanes launches new hit vs Binay Written by Angie M. Rosales Thursday, 04 September 2014 00:00


BINAY

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV continues to insist that the ongoing investigation on the Makati City Hall parking building against Vice President Jejomar Binay was not a demolition job but his new moves suggest otherwise.

Trillanes yesterday wanted practically all of the structures of the local government of Makati City, from public hospitals, schools to even covered courts, placed under the investigation by the sub-committee of the Senate blue ribbon, claiming they were all overpriced based on their documents.

Binay and his son, incumbent Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr., are being made accountable on the alleged overpricing of Makati City Hall parking building, the supposed padding went as much as P1.5 billion, as claimed by Trillanes.

The senator said there will be new witnesses slated to appear in the continuing proceeding scheduled today and “that is why the Vice President seems to be now in panic mode.”

Trillanes would not identify the resource person, only the fact that supposedly there will be documents and individuals who approached them and expressed willingness to testify on the issue.

“Let’s see (in tomorrow’s hearing),” he told reporters in an interview.

Trillanes reiterated that the Vice President should come to the Senate to address the issues.

But Binay is not inclined to attend the ongoing Senate hearing with his camp claiming the inquiry is not “worthy of his office.”

“He thinks it’s a bully ring. They just ask you yes or no questions... They keep on pressing you for answers that you don’t want to give. The forum, the discourse, is not worthy of his office,” Cavite Gov. and vice presidential spokesman for political concerns Jonvic Remulla, said in a statement.

He added Binay is ready to answer all questions about the Makati City Hall Building 2 if senators go to the Coconut Palace and talk.

“He’s ready. Let them go to the Coconut Palace and talk on equal terms,” he stressed.

Sen. Nancy Binay backed up the idea of the Vice President, instead of her father submitting himself before the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee to testify on the allegations of his supposed involvement in the construction of the said structure, if indeed Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel and Trillanes are bent on securing his side on the issue.

“At least, it’s a fair venue,” she said.

Trillanes, however, immediately rebuffed the idea, insisting that the rules of the Senate to accommodate a public figure such as the Vice President, is nothing new insofar as fat as their investigative proceedings are concerned.

“This has been done before with the President himself attending a Senate committee investigation, so it’s not new.”

A stalwart of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), for his part, maintained that Binay need not attend the Senate hearing as part of the parliamentary courtesy being extended to two highest officials of the land – the President and the Vice President.

* Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian said traditionally, the President and the Vice President are never invited to attend congressional hearings, including hearings on the proposed budget pertaining to the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President.

“By tradition, the President and the Vice President do not go Congress except during the yearly State of the Nation Address where the Chief Executive gives his Sona and the Vice President leads the list of guests from the Executive branch,” he added.

Gatchalian said parliamentary courtesy and tradition prevent the two highest officials of the land to be summoned by either the House of the Senate in a congressional inquiry affecting the two officials even if the objective of such inquiry is “in aid of legislation.”

The NPC lawmaker made the statement on the eve of the fourth hearing of the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee.

Gatchalian said the Senate could only summon the President or the Vice President in a formal impeachment proceeding when the Senate becomes an impeachment court where senators act as judges and congressmen act as prosecutors.

“And even during the impeachment trial of a sitting President or a Vice President, the two officials still have the option not to take the witness stand unless they voluntarily decide to do so. And this is still within the parliamentary tradition and courtesy being afforded to the two officials,” said Gatchalian.

Both the President and Vice President are impeachable officials, which means that they have to be booted out of office first through impeachment before they criminal charges can be filed against them, based on the provisions of the Constitution.

“This is the reason the Ombudsman does not dare summon VP Binay to answer the plunder charges filed against him by the very same persons who are now accusing him of wrongdoing in the ongoing Senate blue ribbon sub-committee inquiry,” Gatchalian said.

Meanwwhile, the Commission on Audit will tap the services of foreign experts in assessing whether local officials really erred in the budget allocation for the construction of the controversial parking building even as CoA Chairman Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan questioned the local government’s decision to do a phase-by-phase report of the project.

She explained that construction of the building involved five phases and CoA auditors did not see any problems until it was consolidated.

Tan said they hope to come out with a report on the committee level by next week.

She declined to identify who or where the foreign experts would come from.

Asked on whether they will submit the report to the Senate, the CoA chief said she is not sure if they can still do that given the time-related constraints.

“But definitely, we will submit it to the Ombudsman,” she added. PNA

FROM MANILA SPEAKS BLOG (WITHOUT THE PHOTO)

Sen. Trillanes’ Motivation interview on AUGUST 27, 2014


PHOTO FROM PARTIDO LIBERAL WEBSITE

We had the opportunity to interview Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on our show Kasangga Mo Ang Langit on DWIZ 882khz 6-7AM.

WHAT’S THE REAL ISSUE?

The Binays have already complained that the inquiry into the alleged overpriced building in Makati is Sen. Trillanes’ way to politically harass their family. This was an allegation that Sen. Trillanes denied as he cited his reasons as to why he launched the inquiry in the first place. “It was clear that at least P2 billion was earned from that building.

The Commission on Audit (COA) even said that no clearance was given for that building. So who benefitted from that amount? We know that at that the time the Mayor was VP Jejomar Binay, and now it is Mayor Junjun Binay. That’s the issue here,” he said.

CHOP CHOP PROJECT?

The witness in the Senate hearing used the term “chop chop” to describe the project. Sen. Trillanes explained that the project was chopped into “cheaper” parts. Meaning that even though it appeared that 5 bidders won the project, in reality they were only one.

“So if P500 million was allocated for one phase, the bid of the winner was P499 million something,” he said. Even the awarding of the project to the winning bidder was fraught with alleged anomalies. What would usually take months due to the technical specifications, pre-bid conference, actual bidding, cost qualification took only two months for this building.

“We saw in the PPP that usually it would take 6 months to 1 year for the contract to be really fixed. How unusual that this project only took 2 months,” he said.

* RED FLAG IS SEEN

The same bidder would also win over and over again. There was even no attempt at hiding it. “The way I see it, they didn’t think that anyone would ever look into this. But the red flags are so easily seen that’s why even COA Chairman Grace Pulido Tan said that it isn’t true that the building had a COA clearance,” the senator said. Our Kasanggang Alex Santos then asked why this project was allowed to push through given that it had no clearance.

Sen. Trillanes said that this project was no different from the Pork Barrel Scam. “If we hadn’t gone back and checked it, it would never have been discovered. This means that the regular auditors of Makati allowed this to sail through them even without a clearance,” he said.

MEETING BETWEEN SEN.TRILLANES AND ATTY. BONDAL

Sen. Trillanes also explained the meeting between him and Atty. Bondal saying that it happened way before the Senate inquiry was even conceived.

“People are saying that he is a member of the Nacionalista Party. He isn’t although he tried initially. He is not a card carrying member of NP. I admit that when we were preparing for this hearing, I talked to Atty. Bondal,” he said.

He explained that this was part of the preparation needed for the hearing so that they can evaluate the need for it given the evidence held by the witnesses. They needed to ascertain that the documents and information were not bogus so that the hearing would not be conducted needlessly.

LAWYERING

The committee chairman has also been accused of lawyering for the witnesses during the Senate hearing due to his use of allegedly unnecessary wordings and his disagreement with his sub-committee chairman. “The others are blocking the presentation of witnesses.

What did they say that was wrong? Bukol? Even Jun Lozada used that before. In fact, when I asked Atty. Bondal what the Tagalog word for overpricing was, he said it was patong. They are all the same. It wasn’t a swear word against Mayor Binay and VP Binay.

CHALLENGE TO INVESTIGATE

Sen. Trillanes urged Sen. Nancy Binay to start investigations of her own, if she is so inclined. “I am now focused on this investigation. But if she wants to investigate Taguig, then she is welcome to. She is also a senator,” he said.

When asked by Alex Santos what the difference between a Senate inquiry and an Ombudsman inquiry was, Sen. Trillanes said that the Senate inquiry is open to the public.

“This way people will know what is happening,” he said. In the same way, the Senate inquiry into the Pork Barrel scam is still continuing even with the existence of a case filed with the Ombudsman. The public information aspect is still there. It is part of our legislative function and oversight function to see how this sailed by COA and to put up remedial measures to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

THE QUESTION!

In the last hearing, former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado said that he benefitted from the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2. But can public testimony be counted as sufficient evidence? If a person stole, should we also look closely at those around him? Is the saying, “TELL ME WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE AND I WILL TELL WHO YOU ARE, ” applicable here?

The former Vice Mayor was a longtime ally of the Binays before a falling out occurred due to the fact that the Binays did not support the former Vice Mayor’s desire to bid for the Mayoral seat.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

VP Binay: Trillanes threatened witness in building probe Written by Benjamin B. Pulta and Angie M. Rosales Thursday, 28 August 2014 00:00


BINAY

Slams ‘lies, speculations’ at blue ribbon hearing

The Senate accused has become the accuser, and with good reason too.

Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay yesterday accused Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV of threatening a witness at the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the alleged irregularities in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II, which a former ally turned foe, former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto, Mercado, alleged benefited the Vice President and his family.

Mercado, however, offered no proof of his allegation, and admitted that he merely believes Binay must have benefited from the overpriced building, as he himself got kickbacks.

“Yesterday, Senator Trillanes intimidated a witness, the contractor of the building, not to testify. He also cursed the contractor,” Binay, who was Makati mayor when the building was constructed in 2007, said at a press briefing in Pasay City yesterday.

He added that Trillanes, who filed the resolution that set the blue ribbon committee investigation in motion, even threatened to file a plunder complaint against the witness if he does not cooperate (in testifying against the VP).

“Senator Trillanes even threatened the witness telling him that he will include him in the plunder case,” Binay said, as he reiterated that neither he nor his family received kickbacks from any Makati projects during their tenure as Makati mayor.

“My family and I never benefited from any contract now or wherever,” he stressed.

“Senator Trillanes tried to prevent the testimony of the contractor of the project, who, according to our information, was also maligned and threatened to be included in the plunder charge just because the said contractor’s testimony was not to their favor,” he said.

“What is Senator Trillanes afraid of?

* That the contractor would say the project was not overpriced? That there are other government projects more expensive that Makati’s Building 2? That there are projects that were also divided into phases, including projects of their allies? Is this not preventing the truth to be revealed and a violation of the people’s right to hear all sides,” Binay added.

Trillanes neither confirmed nor denied the charges yesterday made by the Vice President who charged that he had “harassed” and “intimidated” a resource person to stand as witness against the latter in the ongoing Senate probe on the purported overpriced Makati City Hall parking building.

Instead of answering the question regarding the validity of the claims made by the Vice President in his press conference, Trillanes challenged Binay to bare all the details of the alleged “confrontation” to back up the charges, for him to refute or confirm the incident.

“If there’s indeed such incident, the question now is how did he come to know about it? Does this mean that they’re in connivance? So it validates everything. Now if that is true, if this witness (resource person) or they talked about what he has to say at the hearing, then Binay and the contractor are in cahoots.

“He has to confirm first if the information came from Hilmarcs (Construction Corp.) before I address that issue.I wouldn’t know what conversation he’s referring to that’s why he has to explain,” he said.

“I believe the public saw everything during the hearing and I wouldn’t know what he is talking about. If he is talking about a private conversation between myself and a resource person, he is not supposed to know anything about it, unless these people are conniving with the Vice President. So, he just needs to confirm that,” he added.

Trillanes admitted however that he had talked to a number of resource persons on the issue.

“The Vice President should first make a categorical statement that these conversations were confided to him by a representative of the contractor, which is Hillmarc’s. So, that we will also confirm that they one and the same. We’ll need that confirmation first, before we would respond because it will confirm that they are conniving actually in relation to this hearing.

Trlllanes, however, has been caught at intimidating witnesses and resource persons, as evidenced by his threat to a Commission on Audit (CoA) official who had testified that there was nothing irregular found in the Makati Building constructed.

Trillanes then said, she had better come clean, so she would not be included in the plunder case.

Trillanes also defended himself and Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano from Binay’s charges that they were practically “lawyering” for the resource persons who are the political foes if the Vice President and defeated local candidates in Makati City.

“As for our demeanor during the hearing, the public saw everything and I would like to believe that the limits of our demeanor during investigations are set by our constituents and how they receive such demeanor. If they don’t like what they see, we will lose political capital in a snap,” said Trillanes.

Trillanes and Cayetano, have, however, been losing public support and political capital, given the low ratings obtained in pre-election surveys.

The senator said Binay seems to be now in a “panic mode” “because he knows that we are getting closer to the truth.”

“But let me assure the Vice President that all these attempts to get the sympathy of the public or pressure us into stopping, is not going to happen. We assure him that we will continue with the investigation, until we get to the bottom of everything,” he said.

Trillanes also countered Binay’s charges by pointing out that the Vice President missed out the opportunity to refute the charges against him by explaining how the said building amounted to more than P2 billion rather than claim that he and the accusers are merely engaged in a demolition job.

The Vice President is likely to be “invited” to appear in the Senate hearings and defend himself from the charges, based on the pronouncements given by the presiding officer and blue ribbon sub-committee chairman Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel.

“We have another hearing on Sept. 4 and we will discuss this matter in that hearing. By Sept. 4, I will probably issue a letter-invitation to the Vice President to attend the hearing,” Pimentel said.

But whether Binay will beg off or not, Pimentel said they will not take it against the Vice President.

Binay in charging Trillanes of threating the witness, did not give the his identity, but a Robert Henson, president of Hilmarc’s Construction Corp, the contractor in the Makati City Hall Building II project, had attended Tuesday’s hearing by the blue ribbon panel.

The VP criticized the proceedings of the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building, saying the hearing has become a “politicized forum whose sole purpose is to make wild accusations and false statements” against the Binay family.

In a press conference at the Coconut Palace, the Vice President said the Senate used testimony of a person who has admitted to corruption and testimony of a person who admitted he lied and merely speculated.

“Yesterday, the Senate heard the accusations of a person who has admitted receiving kickbacks from a government project. In the first hearing, our opponents were allowed, encouraged, and supported to lie in their sworn testimony,” he said.

Binay answered the allegations of his political opponents and said the construction of the Makati City Building 2 was above board. He reiterated he did not receive any kickbacks from any project of the local government of Makati.

“First, my family and I did not receive any money from any transaction in the City of Makati – from the construction of Building 2 or any building in Makati, from contractors, and from businessmen in our city and especially from the giving or baking of cakes or any other benefits for Makati residents,” he said.

“Second, the construction of Building 2, including the entire cost, went through the rigorous study and processes mandated by law, particularly the General Procurement Act. Third, based on the list and documents of the City of Makati, the Makati council allocated budget for the entire project in the span of five years,” he added.

Furthermore, Binay said despite the multiple instances audits of all expenses in the construction of Building 2 made by CoA through their technical specialists and regular auditors, no trace of any deficiency, excess, or violation of any laws or CoA rules were made in the construction of the building.

“In the course of six years, the said project has been scrutinized by the Commission on Audit 10 times, and each time, they did not find any anomaly,” he said.

“Until now, they have not shown any concrete evidence that the said building is overpriced,” he added.

Binay also slammed the two senators, Cayetano and Trillanes, saying that they maligned and insulted officials and employees of the CoA who gave truthful testimonies based on the results of actions ordered by their head office.

“Even the handbook that Senator Cayetano brandished in the hearings states, ‘All buildings are assumed to have no basement (except otherwise stated) and are built on flat ground, with normal soil conditions, and minimal external work.

The cost excludes land cost, professional fees, finance and legal expenses.’ Which means, this is not a comparison of similar items,” he further said.

Trillanes also suggested that Mercado, who claimed that if something happens to him, it would be the Binays who would have a say in whatever bad happens to him, intimating that he would be killed by the Binays, could enter the government witnes protection program.

That the Palace is engaged in framing the Binays can be gleaned from the latest statement of Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Leila de Lima, who told reporters that she strongly considers placing two of the Binays’ political foes under the state witness program.

The DoJ chief said her agency is ready to admit in its witness protection program (WPP) the accusers of Vice President Jejomar Binay in the overpriced construction of the multi-billion peso Makati City Hall building.

De Lima said her office is still awaiting a formal request to place Renato Bondal and former Makati City Vice Mayor Mercado under coverage of WPP. The request for WPP coverage would then undergo evaluation.

“We will evaluate if there is really security threat and how valuable the testimony being offered by the witnesses,” she explained.

The DoJ chief pointed out that a recommendation from an investigating body – in this case, the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee – would be given “great weight.”

She added that the NBI has not looked into the controversy, which is also now pending before the office of the Ombudsman.

VP camp hits Trillanes over building inspection Written by Charlie V. Manalo Tuesday, 02 September 2014 00:00



While the Makati City Hall Building II may not be extraordinary, it was not overpriced, the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday said after Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV along with Senate blue ribbon subcommittee chairman Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel inspected the 11-story government building as part of its ongoing investigation into the alleged high-priced structure constructed during the term of Binay as mayor of the financial district, to determine if the materials used in the construction of the building would justify its P2.2-billion price tag.

Of the 17 committee members, only Pimentel and Trillanes made it to the actual inspection. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano was a no-show.

After the inspection, Trillanes stated that contrary to Binay’s assertion the building is world-class, it contained major irregularities, citing the rolled linoleum used in the flooring, not granite; there are no ceilings in some offices; the air-conditioning is not centralized; there are wrecked tiles in the carpark; packing tape used in the side of the door in the carpark; visible cracks in some walls; and, plywood used as a wall in some facilities.

But United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general, Navotoas Rep. Toby Tiangco shrugged off Trillanes statement, saying the senator made his report as if he were an interior designer, not a lawmaker supposedly investigating an alleged anomaly.

He stressed the senator’s act proved nothing substantial.

“Senator Trillanes’ statement after the ocular inspection of the Makati City Hall Building II remains a subjective and unsubstantiated pronouncement, even after conducting so many hearings on the subject,” Tiangco said.

“What the inspection proved is that Senator Trillanes has a misjudging eye for the quality of the materials used in the building’s construction,” he stressed.

Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, Binay’s political affairs spokesman, said the building may not be extraordinary but it was not overpriced.

“What is important is that the materials used are the same ones reflected in the bill of materials, bidding was conducted, and that the Commission on Audit audited the entire process and rendered a finding that there was no overpricing.

Outside these issues, they are subjective, biased statements,” he said in a statement.

The blue ribbon subcommittee is set to resume its hearing on the building on Thursday.

* Thousands of Makati residents, meanwhile, yesterday came in droves to the City Hall Quadrangle to demonstrate their indignation and disgust over the ongoing Senate investigation on the alleged overpricing.

Barangay leaders, senior citizens, city councilors and representatives of various sectors also took turns in expressing their unwavering support for the Binays.

They condemned the unjust persecution of their leaders on the basis of unfounded accusations hurled by known political opponents.

A warning issued by one of the barangay chairmen drew one of the loudest roars from the crowd.

“To the senators and parties out to destroy our beloved Vice President Jojo Binay, the people of Makati will fight! We have friends and relatives in the different provinces all over the Philippines. We will never forget everything that you are doing,” said South Cembo chairman Ritchie Rodriguez.

The residents vowed to stand by the Vice President and his family despite all attempts to put them down, and to support his bid for the presidency all the way to the 2016 election.

Earlier, Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay exposed a plan by opponents to have him and the rest of the City Council suspended, except for the vice mayor who is a member of the Liberal Party, to pave the way for the latter’s designation as acting mayor and non-elective persons to take over the City Council. This, he said, will be “subverting the will of the people of Makati.”

The mayor has also condemned the use of the Senate hearing as a platform to malign the name of Vice President Binay, his father, who is currently the frontrunner among presidential aspirants in 2016.

“This is no different from the 2006 suspension of my father and the entire City Council ordered by the Arroyo regime to get back at my father for being the leader of the opposition,” he said. Pat C. Santos

FROM MANILA STANDARD

Cavite gov joins VP mediacom team Christine F. Herrera Aug. 28, 2014 at 12:01am
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Remulla

VICE President Jejomar Binay has reinforced his media communications plan, seeking to protect his 40 percent support among potential voters and to strengthen his lead in the 2016 presidential race.

As part of these plans, Binay appointed Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla Jr. as his spokesman for political affairs amid allegations of corruption being hurled at him and his family in an ongoing Senate probe.

Remulla will be working with United Nationalist Alliance Secretary General and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco and Binay’s chief of media affairs, Joey Salgado – now dubbed the “Three Shades of Gray” because of their salt-and-pepper hair.

Remulla and Tiangco, along with Binay, faced the media Wednesday to address the allegations of corruption leveled by the Binays’ arch-critics Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano against him and his family.

Binay also hired a foreign pollster and political strategist, David Rink, who is a brand expert.

A Canadian, Rink was brought in by PR consultant Perfecto Quicho, former executive of the Hyatt Hotel. Quicho was closely identified with former President Fidel Ramos.

Remulla, a party-mate of the two senators attacking Binay, said he was not leaving the Nacionalista Party, and that he had the blessings of party president and former senator Manny Villar.

“I asked Senator Villar if he has plans for 2016 and he said none yet, so I asked for his permission if I could help the Vice President parry the blows done by our party mates, Senators Trillanes and Cayetano and he said yes,” Remulla said.

He said he had also discussed the job with his brothers, former House Deputy Speaker Jesus Crispin Remulla and former Cavite Rep. Gilbert Remulla, who supported his decision.

“Although Senators Trillanes and Cayetano are my party mates, they, too had announced that they would be running for President or seeking higher office. Their announcement came way after Vice President Binay announced his intention to run for President. And the two senators are now subjecting the vice president to their obviously politically motivated probe when they knew for a fact that they would be the ones to benefit from it,” said Remulla.

Sources in the Binay camp who requested anonymity said the hiring of Remulla was Rink’s suggestion to project and strengthen Binay’s public image that he was an executive man, who knows how to run things in government and execute laws.

“Binay tapped Remulla, who is governor of Cavite and had done a lot for that populated province, and Tiangco, who was once a mayor of Navotas. Binay himself served as mayor of Makati City, which prospered during his stint,” the source told the Manila Standard.

“Binay’s media communications plan would show that Trillanes and Cayetano never held an executive position in government,” the source added.

In this regard, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II had a slight edge over the two senators, the source added.

“But those posts were not elective posts. He was appointed by the President to the Cabinet, just like Vice President Binay was given a Cabinet portfolio as housing czar.”

The source said Binay’s potential rivals were “desperate” to bring him down because of his strong showing in opinion surveys.

The source cited the Pulse Asia Inc. survey, which showed that if the presidential elections were held today, the vice president would be the runaway winner with 40 percent selecting him as their first choice.

Roxas ranked fifth at six percent while Cayetano followed Roxas at seventh place.

Trillanes was not in the top 10.

* In the press conference, Remulla said he would start answering media concerns about Binay’s views on political questions.

“I have been in discussion with Vice President Binay for a long time. I helped out in the research. I got into discussions [and] maybe I can help out in this capacity,” Remulla said.

Remulla, a member of the Partido Magdalo coalition in Cavite, said the group, of which Trillanes is also a member, would support Binay in 2016.

He added that he is fully committed to Binay, even if his party mates Cayetano and Trillanes plan to run for president and vice president, respectively.

Asked about the Senate hearings being led by the two senators, Remulla said: “It’s 100-percent politically motivated. It’s part of their political plans. This helps their ambitions. They are using the Senate as an unfair advantage,” Remulla said.

“We will answer all allegations point for point. We won’t shy away from issues,” he added.

Senator Cynthia Villar said Binay probably appointed Remulla because his attackers were also from the Nacionalistas. She added that Remulla’s move would have no impact on the Nacionalistas.

Binay earlier quit the United Nationalist Alliance, a merger of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and PDP-Laban, the party founded by former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. to form his own party for his presidency in 2016, but has not announced the new party yet. With Sara Susanne D. Fabunan and Macon Ramos-Araneta


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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