BINAY QUESTIONS COA PLAN ON MAKATI BUILDING AUDIT 

SEPT 8 --The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay has questioned the plan of the Commission on Audit (COA) to tap outsiders to help its auditors conduct a special audit on the controversial Makati City Parking building. United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) Secretary General and Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco said the Binay camp has no objections in COA’s decision to seek the help of non-COA experts to help its audit examiners conduct a special audit on the allegedly overpriced 11-story building in Makati City. “COA can set guidelines in conducting special audit examinations. But we believe that these guidelines should be applicable to all and not on a specific local government only,” he stated. Earlier, COA Chairperson Ma.Gracia Pulido Tan disclosed that she is now negotiating for the help of construction industry experts to help audit examiners determine the truth about the parking building.

Tiangco also chided Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes in their apparent attempt to mislead the public about the truth behind the supposed irregularities in Makati City fund disbursements. Tiangco said by refusing to cite lawyer Renato Bondal in contempt for lying during the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, Cayetano and Trillanes showed that they are themselves involved in the smear drive against Vice President Jejomar Binay and members of his family. Tiangco also deplored the refusal of Cayetano and Trillanes to cite Bondal in contempt for lying under oath and for perjuring himself when he claimed that the birthday cakes distributed by the city government to senior citizens were overpriced and cost over P1,000 each in city funds. @READ MORE...

ALSO: Binay to speak to the nation re alleged overpriced Makati parking building

SEPT 9 --With the Senate inquiry producing more testimonies linking him to the alleged overpriced Makati City car park building, Vice President Jejomar Binay will go on the offensive early next week when he speaks about the issue anew before the nation. Binay’s spokesperson, Cavite Governor Juanito Victor “Jonvic” Remulla said on Tuesday that the Vice President’s camp was still determining the venue where he would speak about the allegations against him “point by point.”

In a phone interview, Remulla said the Vice President and his advisers believed that the “country deserves” to get his response to the testimonies in the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearings about the alleged overpricing in the construction of the Makati City car park building when he was still mayor. Remulla stressed, however, that despite the noise created by the Senate committee hearing, “no facts” have been established in the controversy and that “everything (said against Binay) is conjecture.”

“(The Vice President said) he would not let next week pass without responding to the allegations against (him),” Remulla said in Filipino, this time speaking in a radio interview on Tuesday. “He would show that all the allegations against him are silly and more importantly, he would like to say that the job of all leaders is to take care of their people and not to look for silliness and not to increase our survey ratings,” he also said in the same interview.
Former Makati City officials who served the Binay administration had linked him to the overpricing.

Former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado had told the Senate hearing that he had pocketed kickbacks from the parking building and that it was likely that Binay did the same. Mario Hechanova, former chief of Makati’s generals service division, on the other hand, alleged that the bidding for the car park building had been rigged and that Binay gave him and other procurement officials a monthly allowance to make sure that the then mayor’s favored contractor, Hillmarc Corp., got the project. *READ MORE...

ALSO Earlier news report: ‘Binay made money from Makati building’ - Mercado

AUGUST 27 --Former vice mayor rats on ex-mayor. PHOTO: FORMER BINAY ALLY Former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado tells a Senate blue ribbon subcommittee that Vice President Jejomar Binay made money from infrastructure projects in the city when he was mayor. JOAN BONDOC --Former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado on Tuesday linked Vice President Jejomar Binay to alleged acts of corruption concerning the supposedly overpriced P2.3-billion Makati parking building. He implied that Binay received kickbacks from the project because as the vice mayor, he did so as well.

Mercado, a former longtime Binay ally, admitted before a Senate blue ribbon subcommittee that he made money from phases 1 and 2 of the car park project, which he said was supposed to cost only P1.2 billion. Mercado implied that if he as vice mayor made money from the project, then Binay as mayor likewise did. Mercado, however, did not offer any proof. Mercado made the allegations upon questioning by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, the main proponent of the Senate inquiry into the parking building of Makati, one of the richest cities in the country. “Vice mayor, let’s be honest. Did you profit from this?” Trillanes asked. Mercado said he would tell the truth and replied in Filipino: “Ako ho, aaminin ko sa inyo, doon sa phase 1 at phase 2, nakinabang po ako (I will admit to you that in phase 1 and in phase 2, I earned from them).” Trillanes followed up his question by asking if the Vice President, who was then the Makati mayor, did so as well.

Mercado answered that Binay most likely did. “Alam po ninyo, tayo namang politiko, alam natin ang sagot doon. Kung ang vice mayor nakinabang, siguro higit na nakinabang ang mayor dito. Kasi ako naman hindi pumipirma ng kontrata (We politicians know the answer to that. If the vice mayor earned from it, probably the mayor more so because I do not sign contracts),” he said. Usual practice --“Kung ako ho eh nakinabang, imposible ho naman na hindi din nakinabang ang aking mayor (If I earned from it, it’s impossible that the mayor did not),” he added.

Mercado further said this was the kalakaran (usual practice) when asked by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III if his assertion was based on personal knowledge or merely the implication of his belief that the mayor would receive something if the vice mayor also did. ‘Automatic conclusion’ --When Pimentel pressed Mercado if his statement about Binay getting kickbacks was just his “automatic conclusion,” the former vice mayor answered in the affirmative. But Mercado also insisted that his claim was the truth when Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano asked him if his statement about Binay was speculation or fact. None of the senators asked Mercado how much he received and from whom and how.*READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Binay got 13% for each deal’   

SEPT 10 --Three locked duffel bags labeled “J,” “G” and “E” that each contained bundles of cash worth millions of pesos for the family of then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, for his personal needs and for his campaign kitty for the vice presidency in 2010 were delivered by no less than his then Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado. Testifying before the Senate, Mercado on Thursday said he personally gave the bags filled with some P1.5 million to P10 million in cash—kickbacks from the city government’s infrastructure projects—to Binay, now the Vice President, and to the latter’s children and staff members.

Mercado said the J bag was for then Councilor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay, the G bag for his father’s finance officer, Gerry Limlingan, and the E bag for his longtime trusted secretary, Ebeng Baloloy. The bags also contained the lists of contractors, projects and the amount of money they gave, Mercado said. Only the recipient of the bags would receive the combination to unlock these bags, via text message from trusted Binay aide and former city engineer Nelson Morales, he added. The money came from the 13-percent kickbacks that Binay allegedly got from the contracts for the city’s infrastructure projects—not just the P2.3-billion Makati City Hall Building II (parking building), according to Mercado. Numerous times --Mercado said that he delivered the bags to the home and offices of the then mayor numerous times and that Binay himself was present during some of the deliveries. The then vice mayor became involved in this practice since 2008, when he was announced as the next candidate for Makati mayor.*READ MORE...

ALSO: Witnesses duds; VP to answer all accusations Monday

SEPT 12 --Amid all the allegations being made before a Senate panel by witnesses dug up
by the senators t
o throw dirt at the Vice President, the senators who appear to be conducting a trial by publicity against the VP, Binay said he will be  answering all these allegations, point by point, on Monday. What was initially impressed upon as a bombshell from new witnesses, excluding former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado who is being claimed by the accusing senators to have spilled the beans on alleged kickbacks of the Binays, proved to be a dud in yesterday’s resumption of Senate hearing on the purported overpriced city hall parking building.

They witnesses spoke of alleged shenanigans involving the city government’s officials but their respective testimonies had nothing to do with the P2.7 billion overpriced structure nor corroborated the allegations on the anomalies surrounding its construction while Vice President Jejomar Binay was still the city mayor. One of the supposed new witnesses, a losing bidder in the parking building project, who was expected to attest to the alleged anomalous bidding process, dismissed any charges of irregularities committed by the winning contractor Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. or even the possibility of a rigged bidding. ITP Construction Inc. president Engr. Antonio Cruz echoed the claims made by Hilmarc’s chairman of the board and incorporator Engr. Efren Canlas that there was no architectural plan for the entire structure on which they made a bid.

“What was given were the quantities (for the foundation of the structure) so we were able to estimate (the cost) for that specific project,” Cruz told Senate probers in explaining how they arrived at the cost of the project. Cruz said they only participated in the first phase of the project involving only P400 million and were not qualified in the remaining stages of the construction of the building. “You’re denying the claims of (former Makati City general services department head and member of the bids and awards committee Engr. Mario) Hechanova that the bidding was rigged, that you were deliberately made to join (as a losing bidder)?” Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, presiding officer of the hearing by the sub-committee of the blue ribbon, pointed out. “No. Really, we all saw the project for PhilGEPS (Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System). When we saw it, we sent a letter of intent and we believed that we were qualified for the job so we bought the documents,” Cruz said, adding that they were qualified because they have a high net financial contracting capacity.
  *READ MORE...

ALSO: Impeaching Binay a waste of time 

SEPT 10 --SOME lawmakers at the House of Representatives and the ruling Liberal Party (LP) are not keen on pursuing moves to impeach Vice President Jejomar Binay, saying doing so will just be a waste of time. Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas, a member of LP, noted that the allegations hurled against Binay happened when he was Makati City mayor. Some critics of the Binay family have claimed that the Makati City Hall building 2, which was built when Binay was mayor, was overpriced.
The Vice President and his son, incumbent Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr., face a plunder complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman for the allegedly overpriced P2.2-billion building. Complainants cited National Statistics Office data supposedly showing that the cost should have only been P245.6 million.

“We are all advocates of the law. There is one legal opinion that he’s still an impeachable officer, there is also another that the alleged offense was committed at the time he was not an impeachable officer,” Treñas said. Binay and his son, incumbent Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr., face a plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman for the allegedly overpriced building. The Binays have repeatedly denied the accusations hurled against them, saying they were all “politicized” and designed to malign them. Trenas said impeaching the Vice President would only be a waste of time. He added that Congress should focus on more important matters such as the budget measure, Bangsamoro basic law and freedom of information bill. The Senate blue ribbon committee headed by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, had investigated the allegations that the Makati building was grossly overpriced.*READ MORE...

ALSO: 3 anti-Binay witnesses placed under gov’t protection  

SEPT 13 --Witnesses who testified against Vice President Jejomar Binay in the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II were placed under the Witness Protection Program (WPP), Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Friday. De Lima said former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, lawyer Renato Bondal and Nicholas Enciso VI, chairman of Barangay (village) Olympia have been given full coverage under the WPP. While under the WPP, the three will be provided government security.

“The three have been admitted to WPP upon recommendation of the Senate,” De Lima told reporters. “In various legislative inquiries, witnesses receive full coverage if the Senate thinks that their testimony would be very material in their investigation,” she added. Mercado, who admitted receiving kickbacks from the building’s construction, said during a Senate hearing that Vice President Jejomar Binay, during his stint as Makati mayor, received a 13 percent kickback from every contract entered into by the city government. For the construction of Makati City Hall Building II, Mercado alleged that Binay got P52 million. He said he also delivered funds to Binay’s wife, Dr. Elenita Binay, and to then Councilor and now Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay.

De Lima said the witnesses may also seek immunity before the Office of the Ombudsman if a counter-case would be filed against them.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: Binay camp questions gov’t protection for Mercado, lawyer  

SEPT 14 --The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday questioned the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) placing former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado and lawyer Renato Bondal under the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP). Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, spokesman for Binay, questioned the credibility of Mercado and Bondal. The DOJ had placed the two under WPP upon the request of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee. “We find it highly deplorable for the Senate leadership to use its authority to recommend for WPP coverage the detractors of the Vice President with questionable morals and dubious reliability,” Remulla said. He said Bondal had admitted in one of the Senate hearings that he gave an untruthful statement under oath.

“He said Makati’s cakes for senior citizens were overpriced at P1,000 per cake. When shown official documents that the cakes cost only P300 each, Bondal admitted that he merely guessed its price,” Remulla said. He said Mercado has not provided any evidence to support his accusations that Binay had pocketed millions in kickbacks from the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building. The former vice mayor had admitted that he received kickbacks from the project, Remulla said. “Such admission qualifies Mercado as the most guilty. Yet, taxpayers are paying for his protection,” he said. “The DOJ should not tolerate his gambling habit to the point that it will provide security for Mercado each time he visits casinos or cockpits to gamble. This will be a disservice to the WPP and a total waste of taxpayers’ money, all to advance the political demolition agenda of two senators,” he added.

Binay won’t cut ties with Noy --There is no truth to rumors that Binay will hold a news conference tomorrow to announce that he will cut his ties with President Aquino, Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco, secretary general of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said yesterday. Tiangco said Binay will answer today the corruption allegations being hurled against him. “Those rumors are just disinformation spread by his political enemies to sow intrigue, for whatever agenda or motives that are not good for our countrymen,” he said. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Binay questions COA plan on building audit


BINAY

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN) POSTED SEPTEMBER 8, 2014 by Ben Rosario - The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay has questioned the plan of the Commission on Audit (COA) to tap outsiders to help its auditors conduct a special audit on the controversial Makati City Parking building.

United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) Secretary General and Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco said the Binay camp has no objections in COA’s decision to seek the help of non-COA experts to help its audit examiners conduct a special audit on the allegedly overpriced 11-story building in Makati City.

“COA can set guidelines in conducting special audit examinations. But we believe that these guidelines should be applicable to all and not on a specific local government only,” he stated.

Earlier, COA Chairperson Ma.Gracia Pulido Tan disclosed that she is now negotiating for the help of construction industry experts to help audit examiners determine the truth about the parking building.

Tiangco also chided Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes in their apparent attempt to mislead the public about the truth behind the supposed irregularities in Makati City fund disbursements.

Tiangco said by refusing to cite lawyer Renato Bondal in contempt for lying during the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, Cayetano and Trillanes showed that they are themselves involved in the smear drive against Vice President Jejomar Binay and members of his family.

Tiangco also deplored the refusal of Cayetano and Trillanes to cite Bondal in contempt for lying under oath and for perjuring himself when he claimed that the birthday cakes distributed by the city government to senior citizens were overpriced and cost over P1,000 each in city funds.

* In the following hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Bondal was confronted with audit records showing that the city government paid only P300 per cake.

The lawyer admitted later that he was merely guessing about the cost of the cake.

“Senators Cayetano and Trillanes ignored Bondal’s glaring show of disrespect to the Senate and the Filipino people,” Tiangco told reporters in a media forum in Quezon City yesterday.

“This is the work of the Senate yellow ribbon committee. It is conducting an investigation in aid of demolition,” he said.

Tiangco accused Cayetano and Trillanes of trying hard to promote their higher political plans at the expense of Binay and members of his family.

He challenged the two senators to show they are not biased against the Binays by calling on Hillmarc Construction or the COA to present records of the former’s construction projects.

“This way they can compare apples with apples and not apples with oranges,” Tiangco explained.

He pointed out that the real cost of the controversial parking building can be compared to the cost of other government projects completed by Hilmarc.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Binay to explain pricing of Makati parking building next week
By Christine O. Avendaño |Philippine Daily Inquirer6:31 pm | Tuesday, September 9th, 2014


Vice President Jejomar Binay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — With the Senate inquiry producing more testimonies linking him to the alleged overpriced Makati City car park building, Vice President Jejomar Binay will go on the offensive early next week when he speaks about the issue anew before the nation.

Binay’s spokesperson, Cavite Governor Juanito Victor “Jonvic” Remulla said on Tuesday that the Vice President’s camp was still determining the venue where he would speak about the allegations against him “point by point.”

In a phone interview, Remulla said the Vice President and his advisers believed that the “country deserves” to get his response to the testimonies in the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearings about the alleged overpricing in the construction of the Makati City car park building when he was still mayor.

Remulla stressed, however, that despite the noise created by the Senate committee hearing, “no facts” have been established in the controversy and that “everything (said against Binay) is conjecture.”

“(The Vice President said) he would not let next week pass without responding to the allegations against (him),” Remulla said in Filipino, this time speaking in a radio interview on Tuesday.

“He would show that all the allegations against him are silly and more importantly, he would like to say that the job of all leaders is to take care of their people and not to look for silliness and not to increase our survey ratings,” he also said in the same interview.

Former Makati City officials who served the Binay administration had linked him to the overpricing. Former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado had told the Senate hearing that he had pocketed kickbacks from the parking building and that it was likely that Binay did the same.

Mario Hechanova, former chief of Makati’s generals service division, on the other hand, alleged that the bidding for the car park building had been rigged and that Binay gave him and other procurement officials a monthly allowance to make sure that the then mayor’s favored contractor, Hillmarc Corp., got the project.

* Binay’s camp have denied these allegations, turning the tables on Mercado and saying that he had led the group composed of two other city officials in rigging city projects.

Two weeks ago, the Vice President denied he and his family were involved in any anomaly in the city government and claimed that his detractors have been busy maligning him to derail his plan to run for president in the 2016 elections amid consistently high approval ratings from the public.

Remulla said that the Vice President and his family felt hurt and affected by the allegations.

On calls for the impeachment of the Vice President led by Albay Governor Joey Salceda, Remulla said in the phone interview this would be “the call of Congress.” Binay’s spokesman added that the Vice President has continued to “trust that the political judgment (by Congress) on him will be the correct one.”

“Nobody wants an impeachment. He is prepared for everything. He is prepared to articulate his points,” he said of Binay.

Asked whether Binay then would appear before the Senate hearing, he reiterated that the Senate has not formally invited the Vice President and thus, they would only respond when they get it.

In the radio interview, Remulla said he believed Salceda was not after Binay’s impeachment when he made the suggestion for the filing of an impeachment complaint against the Vice President.

He said Salceda just wanted to “end the silliness” because the latter did say that the nation was distracted by the accusations against Binay by the senators.

“For Governor Salceda, impeachment is the fastest way to end the issue,” Remulla said.

He said the Senate inquiry has disrupted somehow the governance in Makati after senators subpoenaed 20,000 documents which Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay agreed to provide them.

Remulla said the Vice President would be ready to show, among others, that a building constructed, in Iloilo, by the Hillmarc Construction Corp. (the contractor for the Makati City parking building) was more costly than the Makati parking building and that the Batasang Pambansa building cost the same as the Makati City car park building.

“He will show that government buildings have the same costs. He will show that the contractor’s profit went to the contractor and that the contractor paid taxes. And he will show that he did not get a centavo from this,” Remulla said.

Asked in the radio interview about Binay’s fallout with his former city officials, Remulla said that Binay had always put emphasis on work and that was why he started to question Mercado’s lifestyle when he heard that the latter would gamble in casinos and cockfights.

“Noong nakita niya na ang ugali pala ni Vice Mayor Mercado ay uupo siya sa ulo ng manok ng P3 milyon sa isang sultada, at nagpupunta sa casino at natatalo ng P10 milyon sa isang gabi eh nagtataka na siya (When the mayor learned that Vice Mayor Mercado had the habit of betting P3 million on a fighting cock and then going to the casino where he would lose P10 million a night, the mayor started wondering),” he said of Binay.

That was why Binay decided that his son could better run Makati City than Mercado, Remulla said.

EARLIER NEWS REPORT

‘Binay made money from Makati building’ By Leila B. Salaverria |Philippine Daily Inquirer4:06 am | Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Former vice mayor rats on ex-mayor


FORMER BINAY ALLY Former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado tells a Senate blue ribbon subcommittee that Vice President Jejomar Binay made money from infrastructure projects in the city when he was mayor. JOAN BONDOC

MANILA, Philippines–Former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado on Tuesday linked Vice President Jejomar Binay to alleged acts of corruption concerning the supposedly overpriced P2.3-billion Makati parking building.

He implied that Binay received kickbacks from the project because as the vice mayor, he did so as well.

Mercado, a former longtime Binay ally, admitted before a Senate blue ribbon subcommittee that he made money from phases 1 and 2 of the car park project, which he said was supposed to cost only P1.2 billion.

Mercado implied that if he as vice mayor made money from the project, then Binay as mayor likewise did.

Mercado, however, did not offer any proof.

Mercado made the allegations upon questioning by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, the main proponent of the Senate inquiry into the parking building of Makati, one of the richest cities in the country.

“Vice mayor, let’s be honest. Did you profit from this?” Trillanes asked.

Mercado said he would tell the truth and replied in Filipino: “Ako ho, aaminin ko sa inyo, doon sa phase 1 at phase 2, nakinabang po ako (I will admit to you that in phase 1 and in phase 2, I earned from them).”

Trillanes followed up his question by asking if the Vice President, who was then the Makati mayor, did so as well.

Mercado answered that Binay most likely did.

“Alam po ninyo, tayo namang politiko, alam natin ang sagot doon. Kung ang vice mayor nakinabang, siguro higit na nakinabang ang mayor dito. Kasi ako naman hindi pumipirma ng kontrata (We politicians know the answer to that. If the vice mayor earned from it, probably the mayor more so because I do not sign contracts),” he said.

Usual practice

“Kung ako ho eh nakinabang, imposible ho naman na hindi din nakinabang ang aking mayor (If I earned from it, it’s impossible that the mayor did not),” he added.

Mercado further said this was the kalakaran (usual practice) when asked by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III if his assertion was based on personal knowledge or merely the implication of his belief that the mayor would receive something if the vice mayor also did.

‘Automatic conclusion’

When Pimentel pressed Mercado if his statement about Binay getting kickbacks was just his “automatic conclusion,” the former vice mayor answered in the affirmative.

But Mercado also insisted that his claim was the truth when Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano asked him if his statement about Binay was speculation or fact.

None of the senators asked Mercado how much he received and from whom and how.

* In an ambush interview, Mercado declined to go into details on how he made money from the car park project, saying he would just reveal what he knows in the proper forum, probably the court.

He said benefits he got from the project did not necessarily refer to money, and could come in the form of logistical help in a campaign. He did not elaborate.

Mercado and Binay had a falling out after the latter withdrew support for Mercado to be the next Makati mayor.

Joining WPP

Trillanes also sought the inclusion of Mercado as well as of Renato Bondal and Nicolas Enciso, the complainants against the Binays in the plunder case over the parking building, in the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).
This was after Mercado said he had seen cars following him when he would go out.

He initially said he did not want to accuse the Vice President of being behind this, but later, upon the request of Cayetano, read a letter addressed to his family which he kept in his wallet, where he said that if anything untoward happened to him, it was only the Binays who wanted to harm him.

But Mercado also said he wanted more time to think about whether he would apply to get into the WPP, since he had his work to think about. Bondal and Enciso were amenable to entering the WPP.

Pimentel said the proper process for getting them into the WPP must be followed, and one condition is that they must be willing to do so.

Trillanes said that since Mercado mentioned the involvement of the Vice President in alleged anomalies, the committee should consider inviting him to the hearing. The committee has no decision yet on this matter.

Open invitation to VP

Cayetano also aired a similar suggestion, saying the Vice President should be given an open invitation to attend the next hearing. He said Binay would be given all the courtesy and all the time to respond to allegations.

Makati Rep. Abigail Binay, the Vice President’s daughter, pointed out that Mercado’s statement on her father supposedly benefiting from the parking building was not based on fact, only on Mercado’s assumption.

The lawmaker said Trillanes’ question on whether the witnesses at the Senate hearing were receiving threats was “leading,” adding that they do not have a monopoly of death threats. The Binays also have had their share of threats, she said.

Binays not killers

Sen. Nancy Binay, Abigail’s sister, said members of her family were not killers. She said the threats may be coming from somewhere else, since she had heard talk that Mercado was into gambling.

As for suggestions to invite her father to the Senate, Representative Binay said Trillanes was just trying to bait her father into appearing before the hearing because of political ambition.

She pointed out that Trillanes was planning to run for higher office, which was why he was attacking her father who is leading in surveys on possible presidential candidates in 2016.

The Vice President is unlikely to attend the hearing, she added. The younger Binay attended the hearing and was seated in the gallery. She came to the Senate in an attempt to discuss with Cayetano his allegations against her, but the meeting did not push through.

As for the P2.3-billion parking building, Mercado said the plans presented to him by the former city engineer showed that the parking building was supposed to cost P1.2 billion.

COA chief’s question

Commission on Audit Chair Grace Pulido-Tan also said one question the agency was trying to answer was why another P1 billion was appropriated for the parking building when, after phase 3 of its construction, it was found to be “habitable and ready for use.”

But after this, phases 4 and 5 were added and more than P1 billion was appropriated for these.

Makati officials, including its mayor, had justified the P2.3-billion cost by saying it was a green building, a world-class building, and had to have a strong foundation because it was located on soft ground as it was near the river.

Construction handbook

Assistant City Engineer Line de la Peña contended that it could not be compared with other buildings and that the Davis, Langdon and Seah (DLS) handbook could not be used as basis for the proper cost of the parking building because the actual cost of a building would depend on the design, the procurement methods and other factors.

The construction handbook, which states the average price per square meter of a building depending on the type, also assumes that the buildings have no basement and are built on flat ground, De la Peña said.

She said the total cost of the car park building was P67,000 per square meter.

But Cayetano said Makati should have consulted the handbook, which provided estimates that were only a third of the cost of the parking building.

City officials should also have compared the cost of the parking building with other similar structures, especially since it was spending people’s money for a project.

The DLS estimates vary from year to year. For 2012, the average price of a car park building was P17,000 to P22,000; for a standard office, P31,000 to 39,000; and for a high rise, P43,000 to P49,000.

Cayetano said if one was building a house, he would not automatically trust the contractor’s estimate and would compare it with others.

“That’s what upsets me. If you’re spending your money, you will check if the price is worth it, but if it’s government money, never mind,” he said.

Joya Loft, Grove

Cayetano also said the P2.3-billion parking building should have been compared with the cost of the Joya Loft and Grove buildings, which were also built near the Pasig River and Manggahan Floodway, respectively, and constructed by the same contractor, Hilmarcs Construction Corp.

“This is a condominium building. It’s first class. Don’t tell me that the car park building is better,” Cayetano said.

He showed cell phone pictures of the car park building with exposed ceilings. He noted that the building was dark and the automatic card dispenser was not working.

Hilmarc’s Construction president Roberto Henson explained the cost of the building by saying steel prices rose during the construction period.

He said the structural works had features comparable to condominiums, such as 100-percent power backup in case of a blackout.

Its exterior walls also did not use ordinary concrete, he said.

COA special audit

On the special audit of the Makati parking building, the COA chair said she was still in the process of putting together the team to handle it.

Tan said the COA was having difficulty getting outside experts to join the task because not many people want to get involved.

She said the team would need professionals with integrity.

She hopes to complete the team next week.

“We will do it with dispatch because the Ombudsman is waiting for the results of the audit,” she said.–With a report from Christine O. Avendaño

FROM THE INQUIRER

‘Binay got 13% for each deal’ By Leila B. Salaverria |Philippine Daily Inquirer1:12 am | Friday, September 12th, 2014

Cash put in 3 bags for Binays, says former vice mayor


THE BAGMAN Former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado shows the Senate blue ribbon committee the three duffel bags that he said were similar to the ones holding bundles of cash representing kickbacks worth from P1.5 million to P10 million from various Makati City infrastructure projects. RAFFY LERMA

MANILA, Philippines–Three locked duffel bags labeled “J,” “G” and “E” that each contained bundles of cash worth millions of pesos for the family of then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, for his personal needs and for his campaign kitty for the vice presidency in 2010 were delivered by no less than his then Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado.

Testifying before the Senate, Mercado on Thursday said he personally gave the bags filled with some P1.5 million to P10 million in cash—kickbacks from the city government’s infrastructure projects—to Binay, now the Vice President, and to the latter’s children and staff members.

Mercado said the J bag was for then Councilor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay, the G bag for his father’s finance officer, Gerry Limlingan, and the E bag for his longtime trusted secretary, Ebeng Baloloy.

The bags also contained the lists of contractors, projects and the amount of money they gave, Mercado said.

Only the recipient of the bags would receive the combination to unlock these bags, via text message from trusted Binay aide and former city engineer Nelson Morales, he added.

The money came from the 13-percent kickbacks that Binay allegedly got from the contracts for the city’s infrastructure projects—not just the P2.3-billion Makati City Hall Building II (parking building), according to Mercado.

Numerous times

Mercado said that he delivered the bags to the home and offices of the then mayor numerous times and that Binay himself was present during some of the deliveries. The then vice mayor became involved in this practice since 2008, when he was announced as the next candidate for Makati mayor.

* The Senate blue ribbon subcommittee investigating the alleged overpricing of the Makati parking building has decided to invite former Makati Mayor and now Vice President Binay to its next hearing on Sept. 25.

Mercado said he usually delivered the cash for the Binay family to then Councilor Junjun Binay, handing over the bag in the latter’s 18th floor office, his house on Caong Street, or in the mayor’s office, which he entered through a private door accessible only to a select few.

“The person carrying my bag stops at the door and will put down the bag. I’m the only one who enters the office. If Junjun or Mr. Limlingan is there, I will give them the bags, but the mayor (Vice President Binay) is also there,” he said.

“He (Vice President Binay) knows what the bags contain,” he added. “I will only say, ‘Sir, this is the one for Junjun. Kuya (Limlingan), this is for our campaign.”

During his deliveries to Mayor Binay’s home, Mercado said he would usually go directly to Binay’s library to bring the bag.

Binay would tell him to put down the bag and that Junjun would get it later.

Garbage contract

Mercado also said part of the money he delivered to Junjun Binay included the monthly P2.4 million in cash for former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay, with the money coming from the city’s garbage contract.

He said he was sure the money from the garbage deal was meant for Elenita because she had warned him not to touch it, after she had supposedly complained of his reduction of the city’s “ghost employees.”

Nancy

But when Elenita was mayor, which was from 1998 to 2001, Mercado said he also delivered money to her house, which was received by eldest daughter Nancy, who is now a senator.

During Elenita’s term, when he was out of Makati after losing the vice mayoralty to Edu Manzano, Mercado said he had helped her out by checking the documents she handled. He held office at the Makati action center.

Later on, the documents stopped passing through him and he heard rumors that her “amigas” (friends) questioned his role. But he said Elenita at one point called his attention and asked him where her money was going.

“I told her, ‘Ninang, I asked you where I should send your money, and you told me to bring it to your house and give it to Nancy. That’s Senator Nancy,” he said.

He usually asked his staff to deliver the money, but there were times he personally brought the cash himself and gave this to Nancy.

He added that it was a good thing he and Morales kept a logbook of their deliveries, which he showed to Elenita. But this logbook is no longer with him now, since this was back in 1998.

“She said, ‘Are you sure you gave this to Nancy?’ I said yes,” he added.

Vistamar building

The bags of cash for Binay’s campaign were usually delivered to Limlingan, the mayor’s finance officer then, Mercado said.

This was delivered to the second floor of Vistamar Building on Mayapis corner St. Paul Street, or to Binay’s office when Limlingan was there.

“(Limlingan) is the one who talks to the private sector. Some of these funds were set aside for Binay’s campaign for the vice presiden[cy],” he said.

Binay had been aiming to be President since 2001, according to Mercado.

Mercado handed over the money for Binay’s personal needs to “Ate Ebeng,” Binay’s trusted secretary since his lawyer days. Mercado made the delivery to Robelle Mansion on JP Rizal Street in Makati, the office Binay uses for his “private transactions.”

The bag for Ate Ebeng usually contained the smallest amount, while those for the Binay family and for the campaign kitty contained roughly the same amount.

Mercado said he got the bags of money from the late former city engineer Morales, a trusted Binay official, who would call him up whenever the cash was available for delivery.

3 bags for every collection

Morales used the term “bag” or “goods” over the phone when telling him the cash was available and did not use the term money as a precaution in case the phone was bugged, he added.

“For every collection, engineer Morales delivers three bags to my office,” the former vice mayor said, pointing to similar bags labeled “J,” “G,” and “E” that he brought to the hearing.

Each bag has a combination lock and Morales sends the code via text message to whoever would receive the bags, he said.

“When the bags had no lock, the amounts they received were not correct and a portion was missing. I received calls telling me the amount was not correct. So, engineer [Morales] and I decided to have a lock on these so that they would be the ones to open these,” he said.

Asked why he was sure the bags contained money, Mercado said he had been a frequent visitor to Morales’ office.

“I can describe how the money was placed in the bags,” he said.

List from various projects

He added that since the money did not come from one project alone, the bags included a list of the projects from where the money originated.

“It includes which contractor gave the money, what project it came from, and how much was given. That’s why there were different bundles inside, and I saw that. That’s why I am very sure that they contained money,” he said.

He added that Morales would not have put locks on the bags if these contained only dirty laundry.

The deliveries of bags of cash did not take place at regular intervals. These would depend on how many infrastructure projects were taking place in Makati, he said. The amounts would also vary.

“It depends on whether there are many projects being undertaken,” he said.

Mercado also said he could only speak of the kickbacks he delivered for his boss, then mayor and now Vice President Binay. For example, if Phase 1 of the Makati parking building cost P400 million, Binay would have gotten some P52 million or 13 percent, he said.

But he believed other officials also profited from the infrastructure projects, though he had no personal knowledge of this.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III asked where the cash came from, whether from the contractor or withheld from City Hall.

Promised P120M

Mercado surmised the money came from the contractor, since there was no other source from where Morales could get the money.

Mercado was not left empty-handed for his role. He said Binay and Morales promised him P120 million for the campaign of his party during the 2010 elections, but he got P80 million.

Mercado said the Vice President told Morales to stop giving money to the former vice mayor, since they were already political rivals by then.

Mercado had a falling out with Binay after the latter withdrew support for his election campaign in the mayoral race in Makati.

P1B for VP campaign

He said Morales also disclosed that he was directed to raise P1 billion to be used for Binay’s campaign for the vice presidency, for Junjun’s campaign for mayor and for the reelection of Makati Rep. Abigail Binay.

Asked about the Binay camp’s allegation that Mercado, Morales and former general services director Mario Hechanova had formed the “triumvirate of corruption” for rigging the bidding for projects in Makati, Mercado noted that after he and Hechanova had broken away from Binay, Morales stayed with the mayor.

Mercado also said that when he was councilor, he regularly received envelopes of cash containing P10,000 to P70,000, and was told he’d received this as long as he would be a “good boy.”

The members of the blue ribbon subcommittee on the Makati parking building chaired by Pimentel are Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Teofisto Guingona III, Sergio Osmeña III, Grace Poe, Bam Aquino, Cynthia Villar, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Lito Lapid, Francis Escudero, Pia Cayetano, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Loren Legarda, JV Ejercito, Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan II and Binay.

Ex-officio members are Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Alan Peter Cayetano and Ralph Recto.

Only Pimentel, Cayetano and Trillanes were present at Thursday’s hearing. Senator Binay early on said she would inhibit from the hearing out of delicadeza.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Witnesses duds; VP to answer all accusations Monday Written by Angie M. Rosales Friday, 12 September 2014 00:00

Amid all the allegations being made before a Senate panel by witnesses dug up by the senators to throw dirt at the Vice President, the senators who appear to be conducting a trial by publicity against the VP, Binay said he will be answering all these allegations, point by point, on Monday.

What was initially impressed upon as a bombshell from new witnesses, excluding former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado who is being claimed by the accusing senators to have spilled the beans on alleged kickbacks of the Binays, proved to be a dud in yesterday’s resumption of Senate hearing on the purported overpriced city hall parking building.

They witnesses spoke of alleged shenanigans involving the city government’s officials but their respective testimonies had nothing to do with the P2.7 billion overpriced structure nor corroborated the allegations on the anomalies surrounding its construction while Vice President Jejomar Binay was still the city mayor.

One of the supposed new witnesses, a losing bidder in the parking building project, who was expected to attest to the alleged anomalous bidding process, dismissed any charges of irregularities committed by the winning contractor Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. or even the possibility of a rigged bidding.

ITP Construction Inc. president Engr. Antonio Cruz echoed the claims made by Hilmarc’s chairman of the board and incorporator Engr. Efren Canlas that there was no architectural plan for the entire structure on which they made a bid.

“What was given were the quantities (for the foundation of the structure) so we were able to estimate (the cost) for that specific project,” Cruz told Senate probers in explaining how they arrived at the cost of the project.

Cruz said they only participated in the first phase of the project involving only P400 million and were not qualified in the remaining stages of the construction of the building.

“You’re denying the claims of (former Makati City general services department head and member of the bids and awards committee Engr. Mario) Hechanova that the bidding was rigged, that you were deliberately made to join (as a losing bidder)?” Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, presiding officer of the hearing by the sub-committee of the blue ribbon, pointed out.

“No. Really, we all saw the project for PhilGEPS (Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System). When we saw it, we sent a letter of intent and we believed that we were qualified for the job so we bought the documents,” Cruz said, adding that they were qualified because they have a high net financial contracting capacity.

* In the succeeding undertaking, they opted to participate in the bidding because of several reasons, including the fact they did not meet the qualifications and that they were engaged in several other projects.

Both Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV kept on urging Cruz to come clean on the issue to spare themselves of the possibility of being included in the plunder case against Binay, which was yet another veiled threat from the two senators, who have been threatening witnesses who do not testfy to what they want to hear.

Trillanes, at one point in the hearing, even berated Cruz and insinuated that the latter apparently voluntarily submitted himself before them to clear Hilmarc’s of any involvement in the overpricing of the project.

Later in the hearing, Cruz had it on record that they were only responding to the invitation given by the sub-committee which explains their presence in the proceedings and did not volunteer to attend the hearing.

Another new witness, Marcial Lichauco Jr., president and general manager of 911 Alarm, appeared in the hearing and claimed that he was the one being referred to by Hechanova as the losing bidder who got trapped for about an hour and two minutes in the elevator of Makati City hall.

The incident caused him to miss the chance to participate in the bidding for the supplier of firefighting and rescue equipment that Hechanova claimed was supposedly bagged by a supplier favored by then councilor and now incumbent Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay.

While Lichauco’s claims would support the allegation of rigged bidding, it had nothing to do with the controversial parking building project.

Mercado’s testimony likewise did not give credence to the issue of the overpricing of the parking building project as he spoke of alleged regular kickbacks being received by some members of the Binay family, including Mayor Junjun Binay, his mother former Mayor Elenita and even Senator Nancy.

He claimed that he used to deliver millions to the Vice President, who was mayor then, in his own home, which he could come in without the need of being stopped by the security of the mayor.

These were supposedly culled from every contract for projects entered into by the Makati City government in which the Vice President, while he was still the mayor, would supposedly be given 13 percent commission and divided among his son, now Mayor Junjun and two other underlings.

Complete with the props of duffel bags to demonstrate how he would supposedly prepare the stash of cash delivered to the Binays and associates, Mercado claimed he knew nothing of the sources of the funds, except that he was told that it came from supposed commissions of infrastructure projects.

Mercado could not fully explain why the supposed kickbacks were pegged at 13 percent except that it was the supposedly the standard operating procedure in their locality and if applied on the first phase of the parking project, it would mean P52 million kickbacks for the Vice President which would fall under the law on plunder.

During the first and second hearings, Mercado claimed he was given money, and he presumed that Binay also got money too. That was as far as he went.

Since he has been accepted in the Government Witness Protection Program, he now is free with his allegations that he had delivered millions to Binay. He has obviously been coached to come up with this new charge.

When Pimentel tried to elicit a confirmation from Mercado if indeed the Vice President received P52 million from the parking building project, the former vice mayor could not give a categorical statement and instead explained that he merely used it as an “example” to illustrate the amount the Binays would receive from every infrastructure project in the city.

United Naitonalist Alliance Seretary-General Rep. Toby Tiangco issued a press statement yesterday, saying, “as you have seen in all the hearings so far, two senators have chosen to hijack these proceedings to further their political ambitions.

They coddle witnesses that say what they want to hear, but threaten and bully the witnesses who contradict them.

“The have transformed the Senate blue ribbon committee into a kangaroo court where they are now serving as the lawyers of the Vice President’s political opponents, the prosecutors of the Binay family, and at the same time the judges of the entire proceeding.

“They have threatened to file criminal charges against witnesses who tell the truth and do not conform to their script of lies.

“The people have lost interest in the hearings because they have realized that the two senators are just grandstanding and that the hearings are just being done in aid of demolition. They cannot even convince their co-senators to attend the hearings. That is why they now want to invite the Vice President, to increase media attention.

“But what is sad is that the Senate President himself has allowed the two senators to use the Senate to hurl baseless and malicious allegations against the Vice President and his family just to divert the attention of the public from the PDAF scam, the issue of DAP, the Malampaya scam, the MRT issue, and rising criminality in the country.”

VP Binay’s spokesman, Gov. Jonvic Remulla, in a press statement said: “Like the former general services head Mario Hechanova, Mercado conveniently used the name of a dead person to make malicious and baseless allegations against the Vice President and his family. They should stop using the name of a dead person, in the process hurting his family who are still grieving from his death a year ago.

“As we have said before, such a statement not backed by evidence will not stand in a court of law but only in a kangaroo court where judgment has been rendered even before the hearing started.”

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

‘Impeaching Binay a waste of time’ September 9, 2014 11:09 pm by LLANESCA T. PANTI AND CATHERINE S. VALENTE REPORTERS


Vice President Jejomar Binay

SOME lawmakers at the House of Representatives and the ruling Liberal Party (LP) are not keen on pursuing moves to impeach Vice President Jejomar Binay, saying doing so will just be a waste of time.

Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas, a member of LP, noted that the allegations hurled against Binay happened when he was Makati City mayor. Some critics of the Binay family have claimed that the Makati City Hall building 2, which was built when Binay was mayor, was overpriced.

The Vice President and his son, incumbent Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr., face a plunder complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman for the allegedly overpriced P2.2-billion building.

Complainants cited National Statistics Office data supposedly showing that the cost should have only been P245.6 million.

“We are all advocates of the law. There is one legal opinion that he’s still an impeachable officer, there is also another that the alleged offense was committed at the time he was not an impeachable officer,” Treñas said.

Binay and his son, incumbent Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr., face a plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman for the allegedly overpriced building.

The Binays have repeatedly denied the accusations hurled against them, saying they were all “politicized” and designed to malign them.

Trenas said impeaching the Vice President would only be a waste of time. He added that Congress should focus on more important matters such as the budget measure, Bangsamoro basic law and freedom of information bill.

The Senate blue ribbon committee headed by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, had investigated the allegations that the Makati building was grossly overpriced.

* Cayetano and Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th of the Nacionalista Party, who have hinted of seeking higher office in 2016, have been leading the Building 2 probe.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez agreed that the Senate probe is politically motivated since the issue was raised seven years after the building was constructed.

“There is too much politics involved. There are proper forums to investigate the Vice President if he indeed committed a crime. I’d rather that Congress and the Senate work on nation-building and inclusive growth,” Benitez stressed.

Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar and LP Secretary General Mel Senen Sarmiento agreed with Benitez.

“We don’t have time for political mudslinging. We are focused on the President’s projects, including the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, not politics,” Sarmiento said in a statement.

“Regardless of the outcome of the Senate investigation, the Vice President also said that it’s the Ombudsman who should be handling the case and deciding whether there were anomalies or otherwise. To shift the venue from the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to the Office of the Ombudsman is basically the same as seeking impeachment,” Benitez, Chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, said during the Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum.

Evardone and Treñas, however, noted that the House cannot stop the Senate from investigating the allegedly overpriced Makati City building.

“We will respect inter-chamber courtesy. They investigate what they think is important, and the House will also investigate what it thinks is important. We will not interfere. I respect the stand of the Senate if they want to go on with their investigation,” Evardone said.

Coy

Malacañang also played coy and tossed to Congress the “impeachment process” that would remove Binay.

“Kung ang nais na maganap ay impeachment, ang prosesong ito ay nasasakop ng tungkulin at kapangyarihan ng House of Representatives [If what is to happen is the impeachment [of Binay], this process falls under the responsibility and power of the House of Representatives],” Presidential Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a news conference.

“Ipapaubaya na lang namin sa kanila kung ano ang nais nilang gawin dito, kung meron ngang panukala o resolusyon na ihaharap sa kanila hinggil dito [We are leaving it to them [congressmen] what they want to do about it, if there would be suggestions or resolutions that they would be presenting regarding the impeachment process],” Coloma added.

Binay has been candid in his ambition for the presidency right after he won the vice presidency in the 2010 elections at the 11th hour against favored and then-senator Manuel Roxas 2nd of the LP.

He remains the candidate to beat less than two years before the 2016 polls, according to a number of surveys.

FROM THE INQUIRER

3 anti-Binay witnesses placed under gov’t protection By Tetch Torres-Tupas |INQUIRER.net6:35 pm | Friday, September 12th, 2014


Former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado and lawyer Renato Bondal. INQUIRER PHOTOS

MANILA, Philippines – Witnesses who testified against Vice President Jejomar Binay in the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II were placed under the Witness Protection Program (WPP), Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Friday.

De Lima said former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, lawyer Renato Bondal and Nicholas Enciso VI, chairman of Barangay (village) Olympia have been given full coverage under the WPP.

While under the WPP, the three will be provided government security.

“The three have been admitted to WPP upon recommendation of the Senate,” De Lima told reporters.

“In various legislative inquiries, witnesses receive full coverage if the Senate thinks that their testimony would be very material in their investigation,” she added.

Mercado, who admitted receiving kickbacks from the building’s construction, said during a Senate hearing that Vice President Jejomar Binay, during his stint as Makati mayor, received a 13 percent kickback from every contract entered into by the city government.

For the construction of Makati City Hall Building II, Mercado alleged that Binay got P52 million.

He said he also delivered funds to Binay’s wife, Dr. Elenita Binay, and to then Councilor and now Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay.

De Lima said the witnesses may also seek immunity before the Office of the Ombudsman if a counter-case would be filed against them.

FROM PHILSTAR

Binay camp questions gov’t protection for Mercado, lawyer By Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 14, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday questioned the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) placing former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado and lawyer Renato Bondal under the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).

Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, spokesman for Binay, questioned the credibility of Mercado and Bondal.

The DOJ had placed the two under WPP upon the request of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.

“We find it highly deplorable for the Senate leadership to use its authority to recommend for WPP coverage the detractors of the Vice President with questionable morals and dubious reliability,” Remulla said.

He said Bondal had admitted in one of the Senate hearings that he gave an untruthful statement under oath.

“He said Makati’s cakes for senior citizens were overpriced at P1,000 per cake. When shown official documents that the cakes cost only P300 each, Bondal admitted that he merely guessed its price,” Remulla said.

He said Mercado has not provided any evidence to support his accusations that Binay had pocketed millions in kickbacks from the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building.

The former vice mayor had admitted that he received kickbacks from the project, Remulla said.

“Such admission qualifies Mercado as the most guilty. Yet, taxpayers are paying for his protection,” he said.

“The DOJ should not tolerate his gambling habit to the point that it will provide security for Mercado each time he visits casinos or cockpits to gamble. This will be a disservice to the WPP and a total waste of taxpayers’ money, all to advance the political demolition agenda of two senators,” he added.

Binay won’t cut ties with Noy

There is no truth to rumors that Binay will hold a news conference tomorrow to announce that he will cut his ties with President Aquino, Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco, secretary general of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said yesterday.

Tiangco said Binay will answer today the corruption allegations being hurled against him.

“Those rumors are just disinformation spread by his political enemies to sow intrigue, for whatever agenda or motives that are not good for our countrymen,” he said.

* He said there are no details yet as to the venue but the news conference will likely happen this afternoon.

Text messages circulated that the Vice President will hold a press conference tomorrow to announce his resignation from the Aquino Cabinet.

The lawmaker said the Senate probe on the Makati parking building was timed during the conduct of the surveys by various poll outfits in an attempt to pull down Binay’s high ratings.

“It’s obvious that the Senate investigation is meant to destroy him. I was informed that the Vice President received his invitation to appear in the investigation just hours after the investigation was finished on Thursday,” Tiangco said.

Meanwhile, a stalwart of UNA warned that administration lawmakers pushing for Binay’s impeachment could face the “wrath of the people.”

“Why only now? It must be politically motivated. Anyway, impeachment is a legal but also a political process. Those who abuse it will answer to the people come election time,” Parañaque City Rep. Gustavo Tambunting said.

“This is plain and simple politics, especially he remains the frontrunner in the presidential polls,” he said.

Tambunting said Binay’s detractors could not use the allegations as basis to impeach him, as the carpark building was constructed when he was mayor of Makati seven years ago.

Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, a member House committee on justice, said talks to impeach Binay will not only waste government resources, but also divide the nation.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, leader of the Visayan bloc and a stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party, blamed politicking ahead of the 2016 presidential polls as behind the controversies against Binay.

Benitez said the Office of the Ombudsman should conduct investigation on the allegations against the Vice President so that Congress can continue its legislative work.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano urged individuals who had any experience with corrupt practices while dealing with the city government of Makati at the time Binay was still mayor to come forward and testify.

Cayetano believes that businessman Mario Lichauco Jr., who testified before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee last Thursday, was not the only one who had some “horror” stories about the city government of Makati.

Lichauco told the committee that he was trapped inside one of the elevators of the Makati City Hall for over an hour on his way to submit bid documents for firefighting equipment seven years ago.

Former Makati City Bids and Awards Committee vice chairman Mario Hechanova told the Senate that the elevator was deliberately stopped so that the bidder could not submit the required documents on time.

Hechanova claimed that the bidding procedures for infrastructure projects of the city government of Makati were rigged so that only Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. would win.

Cayetano urged other businessmen who went through similar experiences to come forward and testify. – With Paolo Romero, Marvin Sy


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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