HEADLINE NEWS FROM OCT 9 - 11 ...

MAKATI CITY A BUNDLE OF CONTRADICTION  

OCT 9 --PHOTO: SKYLINE OVER POVERTY LINE The towering buildings are at the heart of Makati City, while the shanties are along an estero in Pasay City. RAFFY LERMA. From whatever angle one views it, Makati City is a bundle of contradictions. It is home to the ultrarich as well as to the extremely poor. Gleaming skyscrapers tower above the dilapidated hovels of slum dwellers. Modern firms operate within a territory controlled by a political family that has wielded power continuously for 28 years. Makati is the Philippines’ financial capital and is host to some of the world’s major conglomerates. Banks, telecoms, investment houses, hotel chains, and high-end shopping malls compete with one another in a high-stakes pluralism emblematic of modern capitalism. Makati’s executive class articulates an ethic of efficiency, transparency, and accountability suitable to both corporate and political governance.

Yet, the city’s political system has more in common with provincial fiefdoms run by local warlords than with rule-bound metropolitan governments administered by technocrats. Except that Makati has more money than any other city or town in the country. Its gigantic share of the national taxes, called the Internal Revenue Allotment or IRA, is more than enough to provide for all the basic needs of its mass constituency. The taxes it collects on its own from the different enterprises operating in its jurisdiction allow Makati to operate a public hospital and a university, and to overspend on facilities like the Makati City Hall Building II without fear of ever running out of funds. All this has little to do with sound governance practice. Makati’s government remains feudal, dynastic, premodern, and—from what one might glean from the ongoing Senate investigations—hopelessly corrupt.* READ MORE...

ALSO: Binay confident truth, justice will prevail; 'Will not dignify Senate Hearing Committee with his presence'  

OCT 10 --Vice President Jejomar Binay is confident the truth will come out and justice will prevail as he ruled out attending a Senate panel hearing on allegations of overpricing in the construction of a Makati City Hall parking building. Last Wednesday’s hearing by the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee centered on allegations raised by his former ally and vice mayor Ernesto Mercado that he had illegally amassed wealth, including a vast farming estate in Batangas. “No matter how low may be the regard of Mercado and his ilk for the wisdom of ordinary citizens and the impartiality of the justice system that protects all of us, the Vice President remains confident that the truth will always come out and justice will ultimately prevail,” lawyer JV Bautista, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim secretary general, said yesterday.

Bautista called Mercado a self-confessed gambler and bribe taker. “He is enthusiastically joined by Sen. Antonio Trillanes, the self-styled amateur diplomat and imprisoned mutineer who managed to become the highest spending senator, even behind bars,” Bautista said. Bautista also said the drop in the popularity ratings of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano showed the public’s disdain of the Senate panel’s “abusive investigation in aid only of his ambition.” “In his defense, the Vice President only has decades of official documents, the testimony of impartial witnesses like COA auditors and construction experts, and most important, the record of his public service and the success story that Makati represents,” Bautista said. Binay, meanwhile, said he would not dignify the Senate committee hearing with his presence. “Will you attend the hearing, if you were on my part? You have seen everything. You are being intimidated. They are shouting at you and even threaten you. Second, there is already a prejudgment. What else has to be investigated? Third, what else will they ask us? All has been asked already and all has been already explained,” Binay said.

“What was included in the resolution was the alleged overpricing of the building. Now, it goes to something personal. Let them do the moro-moro,” Binay said. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Binay talks back-- ‘Bare allegations; no concrete proof’ 

OCT 11 --PHOTO: BINAY AND THE BAGÓBÔ Vice President Jejomar Binay is conferred the title Matan’am Datu (wise leader) by 29 chieftains of the Bagóbô-Tagabawà tribe in Makilala, Cotabato province, during Friday’s celebration of the town’s 60th founding anniversary. The title signifies that some 14,000 members of the Bagóbô-Tagabawà tribe in 29 barangays in Makilala now recognize Binay as their leader. PHOTO FROM THE OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT. Just “bare allegations.” No concrete proof.

That’s what the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay had to say about the accusation of former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado that Binay amassed P4 billion in kickbacks from P15 billion worth of infrastructure projects that the city government awarded to his alleged favored contractor, Hilmarc’s Construction Corp., when he was the mayor. Mercado told the Inquirer in an interview that Binay got 13 percent of the 28-percent kickback for every project awarded to Hillmarc’s. Mercado said he got a share and the rest of the kickback went to the 16 members of the city council, two sectoral representatives, the Sangguniang Panglungsod secretary, the department heads, the resident auditors, the members of the bids and awards committee, the members of the technical working group and the city engineer. He said he and 19 others shared 6 percent of the kickback. Inconsistent statements “Other than bare allegations, Mr. Mercado has not produced any concrete proof or evidence that will stand [up] in court,” said Joey Salgado, spokesperson for Binay and head of the Vice President’s press office. * READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Tsinoy farm owner did business with Binays’ 

OCT 10 --Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano is not convinced with businessman Antonio Tiu’s denial of the allegation that he was a dummy of Vice President Jejomar Binay for the latter’s alleged vast business and real estate holdings. Cayetano said it was no mere coincidence that Tiu, who says he owns the 350-hectare estate in Rosario, Batangas where Binay operated a farm, was also behind a questionable transaction with the city government of Makati years ago when the Vice President’s wife was mayor. In her testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee last week, Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza revealed that several medical equipment purchased by the Makati City government for the Ospital ng Makati in 2000 and 2001 were overpriced by more than P61 million.

Mendoza said among the overpriced items were hospital beds purchased from Mabuhay 2000 Enterprises Inc. In last Wednesday’s hearing, Cayetano revealed that Mabuhay 2000 was formerly AgriNurture Inc., both owned by Tiu. Mendoza, in her report, said 172 regular hospital beds were overpriced by close to P24 million. ICU beds were overpriced by P510,876.24 each, according to Mendoza. She added that orthopedic beds were also overpriced by P455,912.64 per unit. “According to the COA report of Commissioner Mendoza, Mr. Tiu verbally admitted that they were the ones who supplied the hospital beds for OsMak,” Cayetano said. “Why has the supply of beds become a line of agri-tourism business?” Former Makati City vice mayor Ernesto Mercado, once a Binay ally, testified that the 350-hectare estate in Rosario, Batangas was actually owned by the Binays and that Tiu merely served as a dummy for the family. The property was called the SunChamp Agri-Tourism Park, which was named after SunChamp Real Estate Development where Tiu was chief executive officer. * READ MORE...

DOJ ordered NBI to track Binay's 'bagman' 

OCT 10 --PHOTO: Vice President Jejomar Binay holds a press conference at his residence, the Coconut Palace in Manila, in September in part to answer corruption allegations hurled against him. He dismissed the claims as a campaign against his planned presidential bid in 2016. OVP MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Friday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to locate a former staff member of Vice President Jejomar Binay who allegedly received the former Makati mayor's kickbacks. Gerry Limlingan's name floated after he was tagged by former Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado before the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee. The Senate committee has been conducting an investigation on the supposed overpricing in the construction of the Makati City Hall II parking building while Binay was still mayor.

In a state news report, De Lima said she asked NBI Director Virgilio Mendez to create a "tracker team" to find the "bagman" and as well as Mitzi Sedillo and a certain Bernadette Portallano tagged in the Senate investigation. De Lima said the directive to the NBI was prompted by a request of the Senate committee, which earlier issued a subpoena summoning Limlingan to appear in the hearings. She said she has been discussing with the NBI on the possibility of conducting its own investigation on corruption allegations against Binay. The Cabinet official, however, admitted that the Department of Justice and the NBI are taking precautions on the issue as the vice president and his family are dismissing the Senate probe are mere "politicking." Binay's camp also maintains that the issues are a demolition job to dissuade the public from supporting the vice president's 2016 bid for the top post. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

(ALSO) Miriam: PNP chief directly confessed to bribery 

OCT 10 --PHOTO: PNP Director General Alan Purisima. Jay Morales/Malacanang Photo Bureau MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Friday lambasted Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima for receiving donations for the construction of his official residence at Camp Crame. Speaking at the annual convention of the Philippine Real Estate Boards Inc., Santiago said Purisima committed bribery when he accepted the help of at least three private donors to shoulder the expenses for the P11.4 million "White House" at the PNP national headquarters.

"He does not deny it. Inaamin niya. Sabi niya 'Pinaayos ko, pinaganda ko 'yung aking tirahan sa loob ng kampo militar. Pagkatapos binigyan ako ng pera ng kung sinu-sinong mga tao para mabawi ko 'yung ginastos doon sa bahay na iyon'," Santiago said in her speech, which was shown on television reports. "That is a direct confession and admission to the crime of bribery. Ang lakas ng loob niya," she added. Santiago also criticized Purisima for not temporarily vacating his post amid the allegations against him and a government probe. "He refuses to go on leave of absence, thus igniting suspicions that he will use all the powers and prerogatives of a PNP chief to silence his critics," Santiago said. The senator then advised President Benigno Aquino III to just give Purisima another position in the government so that he will leave the PNP. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Senator Santiago’s way to solve a problem like Purisima 

OCT 11 --Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and PNP Director General Alan Purisima. INQUIRER AND AP FILE PHOTOS. Never at a loss for words, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has a suggestion on what Malacañang should do with Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima—kick him upstairs so he would leave the PNP. In a speech on Friday, the feisty senator asked President Benigno Aquino III to appoint Purisima to a post in the National Police Commission or the interior or defense department since he has refused to leave his position as PNP chief. “That’s the best way, under the circumstances, to get rid of a suspicious character,” she told members of Philippine Association of Real Estate Boards Inc. in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

Quoting from a book by a US law professor, Santiago said that when a person accepts another office incompatible to his first office, he vacates the first office and his title is terminated. “In other words, President Aquino, please kick Purisima upstairs so that he will leave the PNP alone,” she said. In Bali, Indonesia, where President Aquino is visiting, it was a different story for Purisima, who even got praises from the President. Purisima defended Talking with reporters, Mr. Aquino defended Purisima and said those hurling charges should present concrete changes.
Referring to allegations that Purisima and other police officials had been involved in an anomalous courier service contract, Aquino said: “What is the direct participation of General Purisima in getting the courier service contract?”
He said the head of an agency should not be punished simply because an anomalous deal had occurred in the agency. “If he is the head of an organization with 140,000 people, should he be responsible for each and every one of their actions?” Mr. Aquino asked. “Perhaps if you knew of something wrong and tolerated it then there is an issue,” he said. ‘Nothing to hide’ Commenting on Purisima’s house in Nueva Ecija province being opened to the scrutiny of the media, Mr. Aquino said: “This is the act of a man who has nothing to hide.” * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Makati City is a bundle of contradictions


SKYLINE OVER POVERTY LINE The towering buildings are at the heart of Makati City, while the shanties are along an estero in Pasay City. RAFFY LERMA

MANILA, OCTOBER 13, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Randy David - From whatever angle one views it, Makati City is a bundle of contradictions.

It is home to the ultrarich as well as to the extremely poor.

Gleaming skyscrapers tower above the dilapidated hovels of slum dwellers. Modern firms operate within a territory controlled by a political family that has wielded power continuously for 28 years.

Makati is the Philippines’ financial capital and is host to some of the world’s major conglomerates.

Banks, telecoms, investment houses, hotel chains, and high-end shopping malls compete with one another in a high-stakes pluralism emblematic of modern capitalism. Makati’s executive class articulates an ethic of efficiency, transparency, and accountability suitable to both corporate and political governance.

Yet, the city’s political system has more in common with provincial fiefdoms run by local warlords than with rule-bound metropolitan governments administered by technocrats. Except that Makati has more money than any other city or town in the country.

Its gigantic share of the national taxes, called the Internal Revenue Allotment or IRA, is more than enough to provide for all the basic needs of its mass constituency.

The taxes it collects on its own from the different enterprises operating in its jurisdiction allow Makati to operate a public hospital and a university, and to overspend on facilities like the Makati City Hall Building II without fear of ever running out of funds. All this has little to do with sound governance practice.

Makati’s government remains feudal, dynastic, premodern, and—from what one might glean from the ongoing Senate investigations—hopelessly corrupt.

* How does an economic system that is supposed to thrive on transparency, the enforceability of contracts, normative stability, and professionalism function in a political setting where—to get things done—one must be prepared to enter into opaque transactions, deal with quirky leaders, and operate under shifting rules?

There is no easy answer to this question. But the explanation that quickly comes to mind is that the economic system learns to adjust by factoring in the costs of doing business under such conditions. This basically entails cultivating smooth interpersonal relations with the political bosses by, for example, supporting them with generous campaign contributions during elections.

On a daily basis, this also means setting aside funds for contingent expenses incurred in the course of securing various kinds of permits and clearances from the city government.

Things can get a little complex when these additional expenses have to be explained to foreign partners or to the home offices of multinationals. One can only assume that, in general, pragmatism rather than strict adherence to moral precepts becomes the guiding norm for doing business in such settings.

Some companies may try to insulate themselves from these burdensome aggravations by seeking protection from higher centers of political power. But that, too, can be very costly. Others may simply opt to move out of the city.

In the long term, there is really nothing the business community can do to change the rules of the game in Makati. As a political enclave run along patron-client lines, its system of governance is ultimately determined by whoever commands the popular vote. Modernist politicians may try to offer an alternative to the likes of the Binay family.

But so long as Makati’s poor outnumber its more educated voters, they have little chance of getting elected. Indeed, Binay’s version of the welfare society in Makati is held up as a model of governance for the rest of the country.

This is not to say that traditional governance such as the Binays represent will never change. The impetus for change is bound to come from within the system itself. In the distribution of the spoils, some political allies may feel left out.

Others, like former staunch Binay loyalist Ernesto Mercado, who, as vice mayor, had looked forward to succeeding him, thought he was unfairly shunted aside to make way for Binay’s son.

Mercado could not counter the political clout of the Binays, but he knows enough about the way the Vice President and his family run Makati’s affairs to be able to derail his presidential ambition. This is evident from Mercado’s damning testimony against the Binays in the Senate hearings on corruption in Makati.

The hearings have shown that if so much money has been siphoned off from the public coffers through various modes of corruption, it is likely to come out in the form of financial assets or pieces of tangible property like that opulent English-style estate in Batangas.

If these have been declared in the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth required of public officials, then their provenance will have to be explained. If they have been concealed through layers of dummies, holding companies, and trust accounts, former close associates, like Mercado, are bound to know them.

We don’t know what kind of defense the Binays can offer to counter the allegations of corruption that have been hurled against them. But it has to be more convincing than merely asserting that all these are politically motivated and should be filed before a proper court.

To say that these accusations are politically motivated does not invalidate them.

It only means they should be answered in both the sphere of politics and of law. Voters nationwide may opt to ignore these allegations, in which case there is no stopping Jejomar Binay from becoming president in 2016.

And, if our modernity is as illusory as Makati’s, then he would most likely get off the hook legally as well.

Binay confident truth, justice will prevail By Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 10, 2014 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus1 0

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay is confident the truth will come out and justice will prevail as he ruled out attending a Senate panel hearing on allegations of overpricing in the construction of a Makati City Hall parking building.

Last Wednesday’s hearing by the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee centered on allegations raised by his former ally and vice mayor Ernesto Mercado that he had illegally amassed wealth, including a vast farming estate in Batangas.

“No matter how low may be the regard of Mercado and his ilk for the wisdom of ordinary citizens and the impartiality of the justice system that protects all of us, the Vice President remains confident that the truth will always come out and justice will ultimately prevail,” lawyer JV Bautista, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim secretary general, said yesterday.

Bautista called Mercado a self-confessed gambler and bribe taker.

“He is enthusiastically joined by Sen. Antonio Trillanes, the self-styled amateur diplomat and imprisoned mutineer who managed to become the highest spending senator, even behind bars,” Bautista said.

Bautista also said the drop in the popularity ratings of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano showed the public’s disdain of the Senate panel’s “abusive investigation in aid only of his ambition.”

“In his defense, the Vice President only has decades of official documents, the testimony of impartial witnesses like COA auditors and construction experts, and most important, the record of his public service and the success story that Makati represents,” Bautista said.

Binay, meanwhile, said he would not dignify the Senate committee hearing with his presence.

“Will you attend the hearing, if you were on my part? You have seen everything. You are being intimidated. They are shouting at you and even threaten you. Second, there is already a prejudgment. What else has to be investigated? Third, what else will they ask us? All has been asked already and all has been already explained,” Binay said.

“What was included in the resolution was the alleged overpricing of the building. Now, it goes to something personal. Let them do the moro-moro,” Binay said.

* He again denied that he was the owner of the Batangas farming estate.

“Now, maybe the witness who made the testimony has been losing in cockpit that is why his count is 350 (hectares). Well, the explanation is already there. We do not own it. We just lease portion of it for the piggery,” Binay said.

He said he had already divested his business interest in JCB farms.

“I pity him,” he said, referring to Tiu. “He has not testified yet, but then he is already being destroyed as a person. That is the demeanor of the senators. He is the rightful owner. What’s the problem with that? I think he will be electrocuted,” Binay said.

He reiterated that the issues raised against him and his family were old issues.

“It is clear that there is politics in it. They said that they will see if I am qualified to be a candidate for president. Isn’t that politics? All these issues are old tune. It was during my stint as mayor,” he said. “They thought, in a way, that it will affect my high ratings and those who are looking for a high rating went down from five percent to one percent,” he said. – With Zinnia dela Peña

FROM PHILSTAR

Binay confident truth, justice will prevail By Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 10, 2014 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus1 0


BINAY

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay is confident the truth will come out and justice will prevail as he ruled out attending a Senate panel hearing on allegations of overpricing in the construction of a Makati City Hall parking building.

Last Wednesday’s hearing by the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee centered on allegations raised by his former ally and vice mayor Ernesto Mercado that he had illegally amassed wealth, including a vast farming estate in Batangas.

“No matter how low may be the regard of Mercado and his ilk for the wisdom of ordinary citizens and the impartiality of the justice system that protects all of us, the Vice President remains confident that the truth will always come out and justice will ultimately prevail,” lawyer JV Bautista, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim secretary general, said yesterday.

Bautista called Mercado a self-confessed gambler and bribe taker.

“He is enthusiastically joined by Sen. Antonio Trillanes, the self-styled amateur diplomat and imprisoned mutineer who managed to become the highest spending senator, even behind bars,” Bautista said.

Bautista also said the drop in the popularity ratings of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano showed the public’s disdain of the Senate panel’s “abusive investigation in aid only of his ambition.”

“In his defense, the Vice President only has decades of official documents, the testimony of impartial witnesses like COA auditors and construction experts, and most important, the record of his public service and the success story that Makati represents,” Bautista said.

Binay, meanwhile, said he would not dignify the Senate committee hearing with his presence.

“Will you attend the hearing, if you were on my part? You have seen everything. You are being intimidated. They are shouting at you and even threaten you. Second, there is already a prejudgment. What else has to be investigated? Third, what else will they ask us? All has been asked already and all has been already explained,” Binay said.

“What was included in the resolution was the alleged overpricing of the building. Now, it goes to something personal. Let them do the moro-moro,” Binay said.

* He again denied that he was the owner of the Batangas farming estate.

“Now, maybe the witness who made the testimony has been losing in cockpit that is why his count is 350 (hectares). Well, the explanation is already there. We do not own it. We just lease portion of it for the piggery,” Binay said.

He said he had already divested his business interest in JCB farms.

“I pity him,” he said, referring to Tiu. “He has not testified yet, but then he is already being destroyed as a person. That is the demeanor of the senators. He is the rightful owner. What’s the problem with that? I think he will be electrocuted,” Binay said.

He reiterated that the issues raised against him and his family were old issues.

“It is clear that there is politics in it. They said that they will see if I am qualified to be a candidate for president. Isn’t that politics? All these issues are old tune. It was during my stint as mayor,” he said. “They thought, in a way, that it will affect my high ratings and those who are looking for a high rating went down from five percent to one percent,” he said. – With Zinnia dela Peña

FROM THE INQUIRER

Binay talks back: ‘Bare allegations; no concrete proof’ By Christine O. Avendaño |Philippine Daily Inquirer1:07 am | Saturday, October 11th, 2014


BINAY AND THE BAGÓBÔ Vice President Jejomar Binay is conferred the title Matan’am Datu (wise leader) by 29 chieftains of the Bagóbô-Tagabawà tribe in Makilala, Cotabato province, during Friday’s celebration of the town’s 60th founding anniversary. The title signifies that some 14,000 members of the Bagóbô-Tagabawà tribe in 29 barangays in Makilala now recognize Binay as their leader. PHOTO FROM THE OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT

Just “bare allegations.” No concrete proof.

That’s what the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay had to say about the accusation of former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado that Binay amassed P4 billion in kickbacks from P15 billion worth of infrastructure projects that the city government awarded to his alleged favored contractor, Hilmarc’s Construction Corp., when he was the mayor.

Mercado told the Inquirer in an interview that Binay got 13 percent of the 28-percent kickback for every project awarded to Hillmarc’s.

Mercado said he got a share and the rest of the kickback went to the 16 members of the city council, two sectoral representatives, the Sangguniang Panglungsod secretary, the department heads, the resident auditors, the members of the bids and awards committee, the members of the technical working group and the city engineer.

He said he and 19 others shared 6 percent of the kickback.

Inconsistent statements

“Other than bare allegations, Mr. Mercado has not produced any concrete proof or evidence that will stand [up] in court,” said Joey Salgado, spokesperson for Binay and head of the Vice President’s press office.

* Salgado also observed that Mercado’s statements are inconsistent with his previous claims.

“Previously, he said it was the former city engineer, Nelson Morales, who was the main source of the alleged payoffs. He had claimed to be just a recipient and had no knowledge of the specific amounts allegedly due to other recipients. Now he talks with obvious authority on the breakdown of the supposed payoffs,” Salgado said, referring to Mercado’s testimony in a Senate blue ribbon subcommittee looking into the alleged overpricing of the P2.28-billion Makati City Hall Building II. The building was built by Hilmarc’s.

Same old faces

Documents obtained by the Inquirer showed the members of the city government’s bids and awards committee had not changed since Binay was the mayor, from 2007 to 2010, when his son, Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr., succeeded him.

Salgado explained that the composition of the panel was “always in compliance with the Local Government Code and its implementing rules, specifically Section 3.1 Rule 3.”

The documents showed that the committee abbreviated the bidding process by publishing the invitation to bid in just one Filipino tabloid, Balita, and only for one day, instead of the required 14 days in a newspaper of general circulation, and posted a public announcements involving projects only in the city library, instead of conspicuous places such as elevators and other areas frequented by people.

Apparently, public knowledge of projects was being limited to Hilmarc’s.

That’s not the case, Salgado said.

Seal of good housekeeping

“Makati bid notices are posted in all venues or spaces required under the Government Procurement Act. This also includes the Government Procurement website (Phil-GEPS).

Makati is among the few local government[s] that comply with this provision. In fact, this is one basis for the conferment of the seal of good housekeeping from the Department of [the] Interior and Local Government,” Salgado said.

FROM PHILSTAR

‘Tsinoy farm owner did business with Binays’ By Marvin Sy and Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 10, 2014 - 12:00am 0 14 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano is not convinced with businessman Antonio Tiu’s denial of the allegation that he was a dummy of Vice President Jejomar Binay for the latter’s alleged vast business and real estate holdings.

Cayetano said it was no mere coincidence that Tiu, who says he owns the 350-hectare estate in Rosario, Batangas where Binay operated a farm, was also behind a questionable transaction with the city government of Makati years ago when the Vice President’s wife was mayor.

In her testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee last week, Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza revealed that several medical equipment purchased by the Makati City government for the Ospital ng Makati in 2000 and 2001 were overpriced by more than P61 million.

Mendoza said among the overpriced items were hospital beds purchased from Mabuhay 2000 Enterprises Inc.

In last Wednesday’s hearing, Cayetano revealed that Mabuhay 2000 was formerly AgriNurture Inc., both owned by Tiu.

Mendoza, in her report, said 172 regular hospital beds were overpriced by close to P24 million. ICU beds were overpriced by P510,876.24 each, according to Mendoza.

She added that orthopedic beds were also overpriced by P455,912.64 per unit.

“According to the COA report of Commissioner Mendoza, Mr. Tiu verbally admitted that they were the ones who supplied the hospital beds for OsMak,” Cayetano said. “Why has the supply of beds become a line of agri-tourism business?”

Former Makati City vice mayor Ernesto Mercado, once a Binay ally, testified that the 350-hectare estate in Rosario, Batangas was actually owned by the Binays and that Tiu merely served as a dummy for the family.

The property was called the SunChamp Agri-Tourism Park, which was named after SunChamp Real Estate Development where Tiu was chief executive officer.

* SunChamp eventually became Greenergy Holdings Inc, which is still owned by Tiu.

According to the camps of Binay and Tiu, the family of the Vice President merely leased nine hectares of the agri-tourism park for a piggery and flower farm.

“Is this just a mere coincidence? The link of Mr. Antonio Tiu to the Binay family is very clear. They go way back. How else can the Vice President and his spokesmen explain this?” Cayetano said.

“When you’re a public official, you put the interests of Filipino families above yourself and your family. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the VP and his family,” he added.

“Money kept by the Binays could have been spent for education, medicine and roads,” he said.

DOJ interest aroused

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said details about Binay’s wealth divulged by Mercado during last Wednesday’s Senate hearing have aroused her interest.

De Lima said her department is likely to join the Office of the Ombudsman in the conduct of inquiry into the assets of the Vice President.

“Ordinarily, it’s a separate (investigation) but there’s a point where it can be consolidated,” De Lima said, referring to the ombudsman’s own probe. She was at the Senate for the hearing on the DOJ’s P1.1-billion allocation for 2015.

“The more we are interested to look into this. All of it, including the mansion and on the aspects of overpricing,” De Lima added.

De Lima cited as a precedent the joint investigation conducted by the DOJ and the ombudsman regarding the plunder cases involving suspended Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr.

Interviewed after the hearing, De Lima shielded Mercado from criticisms on why he was allowed to take aerial pictures of the alleged Binay estate from a helicopter.

“It’s part of the arrangement with the WPP,” she said, apparently referring to the gathering of evidence by witnesses. WPP stands for witness protection program.

It was Mercado who provided the Senate with details on how money had supposedly changed hands between the Binays and contractors in connection with building projects in the city.

According to De Lima, the former vice mayor – whom she finds a reliable whistle-blower – did not seek permission from her when he gathered “evidence” against the Vice President in connection with the latter’s alleged vast property in Rosario.

De Lima explained that while Mercado is now under the WPP, he can be allowed from time to time to get out of his safe house to bolster his testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee.

“It would be unreasonable not to allow him, especially if his justification is to find more evidence to support his testimony,” she said.

Mercado, however, has revealed to the media that he goes around with bodyguards and is not actually staying in a government safe house.

NBI help

De Lima also said her office is coordinating with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to locate the personalities who are now subject of subpoena by the Senate.

The Senate has tapped the NBI to find Binay’s alleged finance officer Gerardo Limlingan as well as Erlinda Chong, Marguerite Lichnock, Kimsfer Chong, Kim Tung Chong, Irene Chong, Imee Chong, Irish Chong, who are incorporators of Meriras Realty and Development Corp..

De Lima also warned Mercado and other witnesses under the WPP to follow the rules imposed by the unit to ensure their safety.

“At first we warned them to avoid unnecessary activities because of the danger. So it’s your choice, many witnesses follow the rules. There are also those who do not obey the rules, and there are some problematic ones,” De Lima said.

“There are also violations, which when resolved resulted in the termination of the coverage under the WPP. That’s very clear under the law and the IRR (implementing rules and regulations),” she said.

De Lima said she would not want any of the witnesses to suffer the fate of Alfred Mendiola, who was killed in an ambush in Bulacan. Mendiola was under the WPP but he escaped his security detail only to get killed in an ambush in May 2012.

Mendiola was the principal witness in the carjack-slay of Venson Evangelista in January 2011.

NBI ordered to track Binay's 'bagman' (philstar.com) | Updated October 10, 2014 - 6:01pm 10 513 googleplus1 0


Vice President Jejomar Binay holds a press conference at his residence, the Coconut Palace in Manila, in September in part to answer corruption allegations hurled against him. He dismissed the claims as a campaign against his planned presidential bid in 2016. OVP

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Friday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to locate a former staff member of Vice President Jejomar Binay who allegedly received the former Makati mayor's kickbacks.

Gerry Limlingan's name floated after he was tagged by former Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado before the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee.

The Senate committee has been conducting an investigation on the supposed overpricing in the construction of the Makati City Hall II parking building while Binay was still mayor.

In a state news report, De Lima said she asked NBI Director Virgilio Mendez to create a "tracker team" to find the "bagman" and as well as Mitzi Sedillo and a certain Bernadette Portallano tagged in the Senate investigation.

De Lima said the directive to the NBI was prompted by a request of the Senate committee, which earlier issued a subpoena summoning Limlingan to appear in the hearings.

RELATED: DOJ to join probe on Binays' wealth

She said she has been discussing with the NBI on the possibility of conducting its own investigation on corruption allegations against Binay.

The Cabinet official, however, admitted that the Department of Justice and the NBI are taking precautions on the issue as the vice president and his family are dismissing the Senate probe are mere "politicking."

Binay's camp also maintains that the issues are a demolition job to dissuade the public from supporting the vice president's 2016 bid for the top post. - Camille Diola

Miriam: PNP chief directly confessed to bribery By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated October 10, 2014 - 1:50pm 5 2356 googleplus1 0


PNP Director General Alan Purisima. Jay Morales/Malacanang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Friday lambasted Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima for receiving donations for the construction of his official residence at Camp Crame.

Speaking at the annual convention of the Philippine Real Estate Boards Inc., Santiago said Purisima committed bribery when he accepted the help of at least three private donors to shoulder the expenses for the P11.4 million "White House" at the PNP national headquarters.

"He does not deny it. Inaamin niya. Sabi niya 'Pinaayos ko, pinaganda ko 'yung aking tirahan sa loob ng kampo militar. Pagkatapos binigyan ako ng pera ng kung sinu-sinong mga tao para mabawi ko 'yung ginastos doon sa bahay na iyon'," Santiago said in her speech, which was shown on television reports.

"That is a direct confession and admission to the crime of bribery. Ang lakas ng loob niya," she added.

Santiago also criticized Purisima for not temporarily vacating his post amid the allegations against him and a government probe.

"He refuses to go on leave of absence, thus igniting suspicions that he will use all the powers and prerogatives of a PNP chief to silence his critics," Santiago said.

The senator then advised President Benigno Aquino III to just give Purisima another position in the government so that he will leave the PNP.

* She said Purisima can be appointed as a member of the National Police Commission or as an assistant secretary of the interior and local government or national defense.

Purisima can also be given a position considered by law as "incompatible" with his present office at the PNP, Santiago said.

"That is the best way under the circumstances to get rid of a suspicious character," the senator added.

Purisima is facing plunder and graft charges before the Ombudsman for allegedly misdeclaring the true value of his house in Nueva Ecija. He is also accused of indirect bribery in connection with the PNP White House.

Last month, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II identified the individuals who contributed funds for the renovation and construction of the controversial PNP property.

Roxas identified Carlos Gonzales of Ulticon Builders, lawyer Alexander Lopez of Pacific Concrete Corp. and Christopher Pastrana of CAPP Industries as the donors and PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima as the recipient of the renovated official residence.

He said the receipt of donations would be appropriate as long as it was not for the personal use of an individual.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Senator Santiago’s way to solve a problem like Purisima By Indonesia, TJ Burgonio in Manila and Niña P. Calleja in Bali |Philippine Daily Inquirer4:02 am | Saturday, October 11th, 2014


Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and PNP Director General Alan Purisima. INQUIRER AND AP FILE PHOTOS


Never at a loss for words, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has a suggestion on what Malacañang should do with Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima—kick him upstairs so he would leave the PNP.

In a speech on Friday, the feisty senator asked President Benigno Aquino III to appoint Purisima to a post in the National Police Commission or the interior or defense department since he has refused to leave his position as PNP chief.

“That’s the best way, under the circumstances, to get rid of a suspicious character,” she told members of Philippine Association of Real Estate Boards Inc. in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

Quoting from a book by a US law professor, Santiago said that when a person accepts another office incompatible to his first office, he vacates the first office and his title is terminated.

“In other words, President Aquino, please kick Purisima upstairs so that he will leave the PNP alone,” she said.

In Bali, Indonesia, where President Aquino is visiting, it was a different story for Purisima, who even got praises from the President.

Purisima defended

Talking with reporters, Mr. Aquino defended Purisima and said those hurling charges should present concrete changes.

Referring to allegations that Purisima and other police officials had been involved in an anomalous courier service contract, Mr. Aquino said: “What is the direct participation of General Purisima in getting the courier service contract?”

He said the head of an agency should not be punished simply because an anomalous deal had occurred in the agency.

“If he is the head of an organization with 140,000 people, should he be responsible for each and every one of their actions?” Mr. Aquino asked.

“Perhaps if you knew of something wrong and tolerated it then there is an issue,” he said.

‘Nothing to hide’

Commenting on Purisima’s house in Nueva Ecija province being opened to the scrutiny of the media, Mr. Aquino said: “This is the act of a man who has nothing to hide.”

* Coalition of Filipino Consumers has filed charges of plunder against Purisima for his alleged “hidden mansion” in Nueva Ecija and his “White House,” or official residence in Camp Crame.

A complaint has also been filed against Purisima for his supposedly anomalous P100-million contract with a courier service firm for the delivery of firearms licenses.

Santiago enumerated alleged anomalies linked to Purisima, including his acceptance of an P11-million donation for the construction of the White House.

“That is called being caught red-handed. He does not deny it. He admitted that he had it fixed and then accepted money to recoup the expenses. That is a direct admission and confession of the crime of bribery. He’s too bold. If only he has no gun…,” Santiago said to chuckles from her audience.

Sports car

Santiago also recalled Purisima’s admission of buying a P3-million sport utility vehicle (SUV) with a huge discount of P1.5 million.

“Where did he buy that? I want to buy my own,” she said.

Purisima also came under fire for engaging in a trucking business and poultry farm, and for using a bulletproof SUV not registered under his name.

“Suddenly, police and other government officials are interested in farming. Almost all of our public officials have big farms,” Santiago said.

Purisima also came in the spotlight over his property in Nueva Ecija that boasts of a two-story house, a swimming pool, a guesthouse and a gazebo.

Landscaped premises

“He’s in an agricultural area and yet his premises are a landscape. Pity the plants, he’s disciplining them,” she said.
Santiago found flimsy Purisima’s claim that his enemies were exaggerating his wealth.

“Exaggerated or not, the question is: Where did he source all that wealth? Why, did he graduate summa cum laude from UP (University of the Philippines)?” she said, drawing applause.

“I have to be impressed with the defense made by Mr. Purisima. I have never before met someone who seems to have such a small mind inside such a big head,” she added.

Santiago said she observed Purisima’s demeanor when he testified at the Senate two weeks ago.

“Judging from his demeanor, I have to wonder whether a respondent works that hard to be a jerk or whether it just comes naturally,” Santiago said.

‘He’s not perfect’

“People say he is the perfect jerk. I tell them he is not perfect but he is doing all right,” she added, to chuckles.

Reacting to Santiago’s remarks, PNP spokesperson Senior Supt. Wilben Mayor said: “All of us have our own opinion and are entitled to it since we are in a democracy.”

Mayor told reporters that the PNP would continue working as usual.

“We treat this criticism in a constructive way, as a challenge to improve the police service.” Mayor said. With a report from Julie M. Aurelio


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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