PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

SENATE RESUMES PROBE INTO BINAY'S PAST


MAY 4 ---The Senate Blue Ribbon longest runnng probe against VP Binay
The camp of Vice President Jejomar C. Binay is expecting “the same baseless and even fantastic allegations” when the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee holds its 19th public hearing into alleged anomalies involving the country’s second highest official today. Lawyer Rico Quicho, the vice president’s spokesperson for political concerns, claimed the hearing is just meant to boost the ratings of those lagging behind in presidential preference surveys. “The Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-Committee would be resuming the longest running investigation against Vice President Jejomar C. Binay that has clearly evolved into a witch hunt in order to bolster the ambitions of presidential aspirants sorely lagging behind in the surveys,” Quicho said in a statement. He did not name names but he was apparently alluding to Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV, who are reportedly eyeing the presidency in next year’s elections. “The next hearings would likely end up with the same results as that of the last 18 hearings, which produced nothing but mere conclusions of fact signifying nothing,” Quicho said. READ MORE...

ALSO: VP Binay’s accuser Twinleaf never paid contractor’s tax [Twinleaf Group Inc., alleged to be owned by former MAY 7 ---Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, has yet to pay the required 80 percent contractor’s tax to the Calauan municipal government even after it had completed the construction of phase 1 of the now controversial Makati Homeville project, the senators were told].


MERCADO AND CALAUAN MAYOR BERNS
The Makati City government infused only P423 million and not P1 billion of its funds to the alleged anomalous 40-hectare housing resettlement program in Calauan, Laguna, the contractor that originally bagged the deal admitted before Senate probers. Twinleaf Group Inc., alleged to be owned by former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, has yet to pay the required 80 percent contractor’s tax to the Calauan municipal government even after it had completed the construction of phase 1 of the now controversial Makati Homeville project, the senators were told. Charges were again made by one of the accusers of Vice President Jejomar Binay, lawyer Renato Bondal, a former Makati baangay officer, during the April 15 Senate blue ribbon sub-committee hearing that the Makati government allegedly spent P900 million to P1 billion for the said housing project for uprooted informal settlers of the city. This was debunked by Twinleaf’s executives.
“Based on the contract, the value of the contract awarded to Twinleaf was P299 million for phase1, which we were able to complete. As a matter of fact phase 2 was awarded to us for only P124 million and about 38 percent was completed but we were never paid any amount on this,” Atty. Miguel Ponce, representative of Twinleaf’s president Cesario Reyes, said in appearing before Senate probers during Tuesday’s hearing. READ MORE...

ALSO: Binay camp downplays continuation of Senate subcommittee probe


MAY 4 ...Trillanes (left): 'I want Binay in jail'. INQUIRER HEADLINE OCTOBER 15, 2014 
A day before the Senate subcommittee resumes its hearing on the corruption allegations against Vice President Jejomar Binay, the latter’s spokesperson already downplayed the result of the investigation set on Tuesday. “The next hearings would likely end up with the same results as that of the last 18 hearings, which produced nothing but mere conclusions of fact signifying nothing,” Lawyer Rico Quicho, Binay’s spokesperson for political concerns, said in a press statement Monday. He said the past Senate hearings have so far produced “nothing but fantastic and totally unsubstantiated” claims against the Vice President. “The Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee would be resuming the longest running investigation against Vice President Jejomar Binay that has clearly evolved into a witch hunt in order to bolster the ambitions of presidential aspirants sorely lagging behind in the surveys,” he added. Quicho said in a desperate attempt to swing sympathy, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV presented two residents of the resettlement project in Calauan, who allegedly tried to discredit the project of the Vice President by misrepresenting and twisting the real situation in the said housing project. “It is quite evident that the detractors of Vice President Binay are hell bent to sow further intrigues and employ the use of government instrumentalities in order to cover-up for their own ineptness and malfeasance in office,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO:  Binays face graft indictment; Probers find probable cause  
[This May 9 report was debunked: No probable cause has yet been found to charge Vice President Jejomar Binay or Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. with graft before the Sandiganbayan as the preliminary investigation started two months ago is still going on, according to sources in the Office of the Ombudsman.MAY 11 Full REPORT BELOW].


MAY 9 ----Vice President Jejomar Binay (left), his son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay (right) and 23 others face plunder case over the alleged “unconscionable overpricing” in the construction of an 11-story parking building (inset) that the city government supposedly built for P1.56 billion. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS A special panel of investigators from the Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to indict Vice President Jejomar Binay, his son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, and 22 others, including the owner of building contractor Hilmarc’s Corp. for various criminal offenses in connection with the allegedly overpriced P2.2-billion Makati parking building. “[The] Makati parking building is a clear instance of diversion of people’s money and putting it in the hands of private contractors,” the special panel said in its findings in their investigation into the alleged irregularities in the design and construction of the Makati City Hall Building II, the official name of the parking building. “There is probable cause to indict the Vice President, his son and other respondents for the crimes and offenses charged in the complaint filed on March 5, 2015,” the panel said in their findings dated May 4. READ MORE...

ALSO: Binay camp: We will not be intimidated


MA7 9 ---Vice President Jejomar Binay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/ NINO JESUS ORBETA
Vice President Jejomar Binay’s camp on Saturday said they “will not be cowed” by the charges filed against them, especially after an Ombudsman panel found probable cause to indict the Vice President and his son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay for their involvement in the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building. “There is absolutely no evidence to show any criminal liability on the part of the Vice President and the other respondents,” Atty. Rico Quicho, Binay’s spokesperson, said in a statement. “The Vice President remains firm that the complaints against him, Mayor Junjun Binay and other Makati City Hall officials have no basis in fact and in law.”  He accused the special panel, which indicted 22 others, of not being “forthright.”  The report of the special panel, dated May 4, said the Makati parking building “is a clear instance of diversion of people’s money and putting it in the hands of private contractors.” At the time of its construction, the Vice President was still the mayor of Makati. READ MORE...

ALSO BY RIGOBERTO TIGLAO: Why do we allow Trillanes to do this?


MAY 7 ---So where are they? Newspaper banner headline three weeks ago.
Three weeks ago, Senator Antonio Trillanes 3rd announced in a news conference he had two witnesses who would testify that two Court of Appeals justices received P25 million each in bribes to stop the suspension of Makati mayor Junjun Binay, Jr. Note: “Witnesses” means persons who saw the P25 million handed over to the recipients. Note: Trillanes is accusing two justices of the Court of Appeals, by rank second only to the Supreme Court. Note: He is accusing not just a mayor, but the son of the second highest official of the land, the Vice President  The Philippine Daily Inquirer and other broadsheets the next day put Trillanes’ accusations in screaming banner headlines. I would think most of their readers wouldn’t even remember that Trillanes never produced those witnesses.  Three weeks have passed, and Trillanes hasn’t produced a single witness, not even any new evidence to back his accusations against, for chrissakes, members of the Court of Appeals. In that press conference he boasted: “I will show the pattern of behavior, the TROs, the frequency, the flip-flopping decisions (of these justices). We will show all these. We will comb through their previous decisions.”  Three weeks later he hasn’t done that, and, of course, he hasn’t proven any of his claims. Trillanes’ accusations and boasts aren’t really surprising. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Senate resumes probe into Binay’s past


The Senate Blue Ribbon longest runnng probe against VP Binay

MANILA, MAY 11, 2015 (PHILSTAR) by JC Bello Ruiz May 4, 2015 - The camp of Vice President Jejomar C. Binay is expecting “the same baseless and even fantastic allegations” when the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee holds its 19th public hearing into alleged anomalies involving the country’s second highest official today.

Lawyer Rico Quicho, the vice president’s spokesperson for political concerns, claimed the hearing is just meant to boost the ratings of those lagging behind in presidential preference surveys.

“The Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-Committee would be resuming the longest running investigation against Vice President Jejomar C. Binay that has clearly evolved into a witch hunt in order to bolster the ambitions of presidential aspirants sorely lagging behind in the surveys,” Quicho said in a statement.

He did not name names but he was apparently alluding to Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV, who are reportedly eyeing the presidency in next year’s elections.

“The next hearings would likely end up with the same results as that of the last 18 hearings, which produced nothing but mere conclusions of fact signifying nothing,” Quicho said.

READ MORE...
Today’s hearing, Quicho said, would be like the 18 previous hearings, “which have so far produced nothing but fantastic and totally unsubstantiated claims against the Vice President.”

UMAK SHARES

The Binay camp shrugged off Trillanes’ plan to present documents to show that the vice president is a shareholder of the College of Nursing of the University of Makati (UMak).

Binay’s spokesman Joey Salgado said “the vice president was an incorporator of the joint venture between STI and the University of Makati (UMak) in his capacity as mayor and chair of UMak’s Board of Trustees.”

“Senator Trillanes is trying in vain to discredit another good project of the Vice President. For his edification, the Vice President was an incorporator of the joint venture between STI and the UMak in his capacity as mayor and chair of UMak’s Board of Trustees,” Salgado explained.

He however said that Binay got no shares or remuneration.

“Did he receive any shares or remuneration? None. Did UMak release money to the joint venture? No. Its 40 percent share represents, among others, the use of facilities to the students,” Salgado said.

“Did Makati gain from the joint venture? Definitely. It earned from the joint venture and produced hundreds of graduates in nursing and related fields. It also posted a passing rate of 70 to 77 percent in licensure exams,” he added.


TRIBUNE

VP Binay’s accuser Twinleaf never paid contractor’s tax Written by Angie M. Rosales  Thursday, 07 May 2015 00:00


MERCADO AND CALAUAN MAYOR BERNS

The Makati City government infused only P423 million and not P1 billion of its funds to the alleged anomalous 40-hectare housing resettlement program in Calauan, Laguna, the contractor that originally bagged the deal admitted before Senate probers.

Twinleaf Group Inc., alleged to be owned by former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, has yet to pay the required 80 percent contractor’s tax to the Calauan municipal government even after it had completed the construction of phase 1 of the now controversial Makati Homeville project, the senators were told.

Charges were again made by one of the accusers of Vice President Jejomar Binay, lawyer Renato Bondal, a former Makati baangay officer, during the April 15 Senate blue ribbon sub-committee hearing that the Makati government allegedly spent P900 million to P1 billion for the said housing project for uprooted informal settlers of the city.

This was debunked by Twinleaf’s executives.

“Based on the contract, the value of the contract awarded to Twinleaf was P299 million for phase1, which we were able to complete. As a matter of fact phase 2 was awarded to us for only P124 million and about 38 percent was completed but we were never paid any amount on this,”

Atty. Miguel Ponce, representative of Twinleaf’s president Cesario Reyes, said in appearing before Senate probers during Tuesday’s hearing.

READ MORE...
Twinleaf is said to be owned by Mercado. He admitted this during an ealier hearing.

“So it’s not P900 million?” asked Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, blue ribbon subcommittee chair.



“It’s not P900 million. Maybe the budget is. But the contract itself is not,” Ponce retorted.

Calauan Mayor Buenafrido Berris, in testifying before Senate probers, said Twinleaf has not settled any of the so-called contractor’s tax, the tax obligation to the municipality if computed based on P299 million would amount to P239.2 million.

“Even if it is sad when I see and hear during the Senate hearing that the contract was for P900 million for the development, there was only one that paid—the AKH. Twinleaf never paid us as contractor’s tax,” Berris said.

Under the Local Government Code or RA 7160, a contractor has to pay its contractor’s tax and 80 percent of the amount involved will be to “where” the contract is being executed and 20 percent to the municipality where the contractor’s main office is located.

AKH which stands for Armando U. Khon Hun General Contractor Inc., which took over the development of phase 2 of the said project as attested by Ponce.

Pimentel sought an admission from Twinleaf over this claim but Ponce said the matter of their contract in the project is being contested by them and they are now contemplating on filing a case in court considering that they were able to accomplish 38 percent of phase 2 but the Makati government did not pay the company for the work delivered.

Twinleaf’s contract for phase 2 which was awarded through bidding, was subsequently canceled by the city government, for reasons that Ponce claimed were unknown to them.

“Actually the letter to cancel was brought to our office only on December 2011 but it was antedated March of 2010. Twinleaf was not even informed. It’s almost two years antedated,” the lawyer said.

In a statement by the Makati government last April 20, Twinleaf undertook phase 1 of the site development of Makati Homeville in 2008 to 2009, but it neglected its duty to ensure power and water supply in the area as it failed to comply with basic requirements such as obtaining building permits from the municipal government of Calauan.

The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), which has the francise over the said municipality, and the Laguna Water District both have stringent requirements, including valid building permits, for them to proceed with the installations in an area.

Berris corroborated this claim as he told Senate probers that it was only in 2013 that permits were issued by his municipality for Meralco to proceed with electrical installation, the same with the water pipelines for water supply to the now residents of Calauan in Makati Homeville.

“There was an alteration on the flow of water on natural drain that is now being worked on. From what I gathered, on the water problem, talks with the local water utility are now ongoing. I cannot say that they have completed the developments.

“But the enginener of a row of houses said that some 300 units have been completed. The school id dinished and is used by the elementary grades and the one coordinating is the DepEd (Department of Education), asking if this can be used for the K-12 program the oher school classrooms inside Makativille. There is access to potable water although it’s not on level 2 or
level 3.

We have to look at it. The permit for electricity has already been positioned in the main line by the developer and later, the resdents will have to apply to Meralco,” Berris explained.

The mayor further assured Pimentel that the project is currently now at the stage where Meralco can readily install electricity to residents in the said housing project.

In an interview after the hearing, Berris stood his ground on his claims especially on the non-remittance or non-payment of Twinleaf’s tax obligations to his municipality.

“They should have paid but that didn’t happen. Zero. We’re not privy to the contract. But AKH, it was this form that paid us and it has a contract for the phase 2 of the project,” he said.

“But we cannot seem to get Twinleaf to pay,” Berris said, adding that such huge amount would be a welcome news to his municipality that has an annual income of only P120 million.

Asked on the allegations made by Bondal in the previous hearing, Berris said “it’s all political.”
“It’s all political. It does not speak of the real picture. That’s all I can say,” he added.

Berris also dismissed insinuations on his political ties with Binay as it was revealed in the hearing that he ran and won in 2013, when he regained the mayoralty post, under the banner of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) party of the Vice President.

Berris admitted that he had long been aligned with Lakas party in the past and was only convinced to run under UNA, not by Binay but former Laguna Gov. ER Ejercito who is a party mate of the Vice President.

“In fact, when the Vice President made an ocular inspection of the housing development site recently, I was confined in a hospital but I was not told that he was coming to inspect Makati Homeville. I learned about his visit after he had left Calauan,” he said.

Berris made an emotional appeal to Sen.Antonio Trillanes and the detractors of Vice President Jejomar Binay to stop ruining his town’s reputation with wild claims about rampant prostitution and crime, which he said upset many parents in the resettlement sites as well as ordinary residents.
Berris lamented how mere words can easily destroy a good name, and aired the sentiments of fellow parents and residents of Calauan during the Senate hearing.
With Pat C. Santos


GMA NEWS ONLINE

Binay camp downplays continuation of Senate subcommittee probe By AMITA O. LEGASPI, GMA News May 4, 2015 2:11pm


Trillanes (left): 'I want Binay in jail'. INQUIRER HEADLINE OCTOBER 15, 2014

A day before the Senate subcommittee resumes its hearing on the corruption allegations against Vice President Jejomar Binay, the latter’s spokesperson already downplayed the result of the investigation set on Tuesday.

“The next hearings would likely end up with the same results as that of the last 18 hearings, which produced nothing but mere conclusions of fact signifying nothing,” Lawyer Rico Quicho, Binay’s spokesperson for political concerns, said in a press statement Monday.

He said the past Senate hearings have so far produced “nothing but fantastic and totally unsubstantiated” claims against the Vice President.

“The Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee would be resuming the longest running investigation against Vice President Jejomar Binay that has clearly evolved into a witch hunt in order to bolster the ambitions of presidential aspirants sorely lagging behind in the surveys,” he added.

Quicho said in a desperate attempt to swing sympathy, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV presented two residents of the resettlement project in Calauan, who allegedly tried to discredit the project of the Vice President by misrepresenting and twisting the real situation in the said housing project.

“It is quite evident that the detractors of Vice President Binay are hell bent to sow further intrigues and employ the use of government instrumentalities in order to cover-up for their own ineptness and malfeasance in office,” he said.

READ MORE...
He also slammed Trillanes for defending Globe Asiatique owner Delfin Lee, saying the senator’s efforts to clear Lee from the charges related to the GA scam was a “clear disregard and disrespect” for the justice system and the separation of powers of the three branches of the government.

Quicho said Trillanes was trying to diminish the efforts of the government to rid the housing sector of corruption, when President Benigno Aquino III himself had fully supported the filing of the case against Lee and the subsequent manhunt for him.

“Senator Trillanes’ blatant attempt to absolve Mr. Delfin Lee from any wrongdoing despite the pendency of his case before the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga is the latest proof of his clear bias against the Vice President,” Quicho said.

Among those expected to attend the hearing Tuesday are Commission on Audit commissioner Heidi Mendoza, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman, Philippine National Police officer in charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, National Bureau of Investigation director Virgilio Mendez, National Housing Authority general manager Chito Cruz.

Also invited as resource persons are Pag-IBIG president Darlene Marie Berbera, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board Antonio Bernardo, Boy Scouts of the Phillippines officials, Calauan, Laguna former and incumbent officials, and Makati City officials. -NB, GMA News


INQUIRER

Binays face graft indictment; Probers find probable cause Nancy C. Carvajal @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:57 AM | Saturday, May 9th, 2015



Vice President Jejomar Binay (left), his son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay (right) and 23 others face plunder case over the alleged “unconscionable overpricing” in the construction of an 11-story parking building (inset) that the city government supposedly built for P1.56 billion. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

A special panel of investigators from the Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to indict Vice President Jejomar Binay, his son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, and 22 others, including the owner of building contractor Hilmarc’s Corp. for various criminal offenses in connection with the allegedly overpriced P2.2-billion Makati parking building.

“[The] Makati parking building is a clear instance of diversion of people’s money and putting it in the hands of private contractors,” the special panel said in its findings in their investigation into the alleged irregularities in the design and construction of the Makati City Hall Building II, the official name of the parking building.

“There is probable cause to indict the Vice President, his son and other respondents for the crimes and offenses charged in the complaint filed on March 5, 2015,” the panel said in their findings dated May 4.

READ MORE...
The findings were contained in the panel’s consolidated reply to the counteraffidavits of the respondents.

14 offenses

According to the panel, the Vice President committed 14 offenses while he was the mayor of Makati in connection with the construction of the parking building and his son, the incumbent mayor, 15 offenses.

It enumerated the Vice President’s specific participation as the following: In 2007, he approved the request to enter into a negotiated procurement instead of the regular bidding of the building’s architectural design; signed the bids and awards committee (BAC) resolution and contract also in 2007 awarding the architectural and engineering services contract to Mana (MANA Architecture and Interior Design Co.); and approved the disbursement vouchers for the contract.

It said the senior Binay also signed the BAC resolutions, awards of contracts, program of work and cost estimates, and approved the release of the money for Phases 1 and 2 of the parking building during his term as mayor of Makati.

P2.2B worth of public funds

“With the foregoing acts, respondents public officials cannot deny knowledge of and participation in the procurement of the design and the construction and release of public funds amounting to more than P2.2 billion for the Makati parking building which is tainted with irregularities,” the panel said.

“The individual participation of respondents is clear. Each of them contributed in the processes leading to the release of more than P2.2 billion worth of public funds despite the irregularities,” it said.

The panel said it was reiterating the criminal and administrative charges in the complaint it filed in the Office of the Ombudsman last March 5 against former and present public officials of Makati City and private contractors, Orlando M. Mateo of Mana and Efren M. Canlas of Hilmarc’s.

In the March 5 complaint, the panel had recommended the suspension of the younger Binay. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the six-month preventive suspension of the Makati mayor and 21 other City Hall officials, but the Court of Appeals granted the mayor a 60-day reprieve.

The panel also accused the Binays and the other respondents of malversation, falsification and violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Government Procurement Reform Act.

List of irregularities

Among the irregularities cited in the construction of the parking building were: The lack of the required public bidding for the architectural and design services; insufficiency of the documentary requirements prior to the release of the payment for the architectural and design services; lack of required publication of the notice to bid for Phases 1 to 4 of the construction; falsification of the required documentation of the publication; lack of required detailed engineering or the plans and specifications prior to the bidding for and the construction of the building; falsification of the bid documents for Phase 1 and lack of required appropriation prior to the bidding for Phase 3.

“The public officials responsible for such illegal transactions and the private contractors who conspired with them should therefore be held accountable,” said the panel, which also acts as the nominal complainant.

The panel also disputed the elder Binay’s claim that the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction to investigate him because as an impeachable official he is excluded from the disciplinary authority of the OMB.

“Section 21 of Republic Act No. 6770 limits only the disciplinary authority, but it does not restrict the OMB investigatory jurisdiction under the 1987 Constitution [which] is plenary and all-encompassing,” the panel said.

Corruption denied

The panel said that the respondents in their counter affidavits did not deny their signatures on the documents, but denied knowledge of a corruption scheme.

But the contracts for the construction and architectural services would not have been awarded to Hilmarc’s and Mana were it not for the participation or the signatures of the city officials, the panel noted.

“Such participation defrauded the government of more than P2.2 billion which should not have been disbursed had they been circumspect in the performance of their functions,” it said.

The investigators added that considering that each contract was worth millions of pesos in public funds, respondents should have exercised a higher degree of diligence, instead of merely relying on what was presented by their subordinates or their co-respondents.

It also said that respondents Marjorie de Veyra, legal officer Pio Kenneth Dasal, BAC secretariat heads Giovanni Condes and Manolito Uyaco, Technical Working Group chair Rodel Nayve, BAC member Ulysses Orienza, General Services Department (GSD) OIC Gerardo San Gabriel, the BAC secretariat members and the Technical Working Group cannot deny knowledge of the irregularities in the procurement procedures, especially in this case where the irregularities are as grave as lack of public bidding, lack of publication, or falsification of public documents.

Forged signatures

The panel also said that the testimonies of Alejandro Tengco, the representative of the contractor whose credentials were falsified and Geronimo S. Montalban and Lyne Alano-Abanilla whose signatures were forged in the affidavits of publication should be given more weight than the general denials of the respondents.

Among the evidence submitted by the panel was the sworn statement of officials of the Balita tabloid stating that no publication was made by the Makati government to announce the bidding of the building and that their signatures in the certificates of publication were forged.

Also facing charges are former Makati government officials—budget officer Lorenza Amores, former Central Planning Management Office (CPMO) chief Virginia Hernandez; former city engineer Mario Badillo; former city accountant Leonila Querijero; former acting city accountant Raydes Pestaño; city accountant Cecilio Lim III; acting city accountant Eleno Mendoza; city treasurer Nelia Barlis; CPMO engineers Arnel Cadangan, Emerito Magat and Connie Consulta; CPMO chief Line de la Peña; GSD staff member Norman Flores; administrator De Veyra; Dasal, Condes, Uyaco, Nayve, Orienza and San Gabriel.

---------------------------------

PHILSTAR UPDATE, INQUIRER EARLIER REPORT DEBUNKED BY OFFICE OF OMBUDSMAN

No probable cause to charge Binays with graft By Michael Punong- Bayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 11, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - No probable cause has yet been found to charge Vice President Jejomar Binay or Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. with graft before the Sandiganbayan as the preliminary investigation started two months ago is still going on, according to sources in the Office of the Ombudsman.

Officials of the anti-graft agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authority to speak, yesterday debunked earlier reports that probable cause had been found to charge the father and son before the anti-graft court.

“It’s not the recommendation or resolution of the panel formed to handle the criminal investigation and administrative adjudication,” one of the officials said.

It was the consolidated reply of the special panel of fact-finding investigators submitted before the Preliminary Investigation Bureau, the officials added.

The second special panel formed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales after issuing a preventive suspension order against Mayor Binay, is still in the process of looking into the case, insiders said.

Confusion arose from the Office of the Ombudsman’s procedure of forming a panel of investigators to conduct fact-finding as in the case of the Makati City Hall Building II.

After completing its task last March and finding probable cause to proceed with the investigation, the first team filed the case before the Preliminary Investigation Bureau, making the panel a complainant, along with the original complainants.

Morales then created another special panel of investigators.

The respondents are now asked to answer the accusations against them during this preliminary investigation.

If the new panel finds enough evidence to file the case in court, it will issue a ruling finding probable cause to indict the respondents before the Sandiganbayan.

The Binays and some 22 other former and incumbent Makati officials, along with private contractors are being investigated for alleged involvement in the supposed overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.


INQUIRER

Binay camp: We will not be intimidated Kristine Angeli Sabillo @KSabilloINQ INQUIRER.net 10:48 AM | Saturday, May 9th, 2015


MA7 9 ---Vice President Jejomar Binay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/ NINO JESUS ORBETA

Vice President Jejomar Binay’s camp on Saturday said they “will not be cowed” by the charges filed against them, especially after an Ombudsman panel found probable cause to indict the Vice President and his son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay for their involvement in the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building.

“There is absolutely no evidence to show any criminal liability on the part of the Vice President and the other respondents,” Atty. Rico Quicho, Binay’s spokesperson, said in a statement. “The Vice President remains firm that the complaints against him, Mayor Junjun Binay and other Makati City Hall officials have no basis in fact and in law.”

He accused the special panel, which indicted 22 others, of not being “forthright.”

READ: Binay, son face graft raps

The report of the special panel, dated May 4, said the Makati parking building “is a clear instance of diversion of people’s money and putting it in the hands of private contractors.” At the time of its construction, the Vice President was still the mayor of Makati.

The panel said Binay committed 14 offenses while his son is responsible for 15 offenses. Not only did the Vice President then allowed negotiated procurement instead of a regular bidding of the building’s architectural design, he also signed the pertinent documents according to the report.

“With the foregoing acts, respondents public officials cannot deny knowledge of and participation in the procurement of the design and the construction and release of public funds amounting to more than P2.2 billion for the Makati parking building which is tainted with irregularities,” the report said.

But Quicho reiterated earlier claims that an “unscrupulous group” is trying to tarnish the reputation of Binay, who will run for president in the 2016 elections.

READ MORE...
He said the Office of the Ombudsman’s issuance of a preventive suspension order against the Makati mayor was a sign of “partiality and bias tot he point of disregarding the law and well-settled jurisprudence.”

Citing the ongoing probe in the Senate, Quicho said the Ombudsman should not allow itself to be used by other groups for “political persecution.” He also accused the Senate of “employing (such tactics) for the benefit of partymates sorely lagging behind the presidential surveys.”

While Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares has been closing in on Binay in the presidential surveys, it is Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II who is being propped up as his arch rival.

Although he has yet to be endorsed by President Benigno Aquino III, Roxas has reportedly volunteered to become Liberal Party’s standard bearer.

“It cannot be denied that the timing of the Ombudsman’s action is geared to discredit the Vice President during this time when the survey firms are about to start with its fieldwork,” Quicho said.

He said Binay will “not be cowed” and will “intently study his legal options.” IDL


MANILA TIMES

Why do we allow Trillanes to do this? May 5, 2015 11:43 pm  RIGOBERTO D.TIGLAO


by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

Three weeks ago, Senator Antonio Trillanes 3rd announced in a news conference he had two witnesses who would testify that two Court of Appeals justices received P25 million each in bribes to stop the suspension of Makati mayor Junjun Binay, Jr.

Note: “Witnesses” means persons who saw the P25 million handed over to the recipients. Note: Trillanes is accusing two justices of the Court of Appeals, by rank second only to the Supreme Court. Note: He is accusing not just a mayor, but the son of the second highest official of the land, the Vice President

The Philippine Daily Inquirer and other broadsheets the next day put Trillanes’ accusations in screaming banner headlines. I would think most of their readers wouldn’t even remember that Trillanes never produced those witnesses.

Three weeks have passed, and Trillanes hasn’t produced a single witness, not even any new evidence to back his accusations against, for chrissakes, members of the Court of Appeals.

In that press conference he boasted: “I will show the pattern of behavior, the TROs, the frequency, the flip-flopping decisions (of these justices). We will show all these. We will comb through their previous decisions.”

Three weeks later he hasn’t done that, and, of course, he hasn’t proven any of his claims. Trillanes’ accusations and boasts aren’t really surprising.


So where are they? Newspaper banner headline three weeks ago.

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More than a decade ago, he risked the lives of his comrade-in-arms, took over a hotel at the country’s premier financial district, and shattered political stability by calling on the armed forces and the people at large to topple President Gloria Arroyo’s government through violence.

His reason for the revolt? He claimed he had evidence as a Navy officer that Arroyo and her officials were overpricing Navy supplies. Years later, and armed with the power of a Senator of the Republic, Trillanes hasn’t produced a single piece of paper to support his allegations.

Why on earth does our nation put up with this mad dog who hurls accusations left and right, and damages a basic institution of our Republic, the judiciary.

“Pakukulong ko sila [I’ll send them to jail]:” That’s a usual Trillanes threat. Who does this guy think he is?

I wouldn’t want to repeat his lies here so I won’t mention his claims. But has he provided even an iota of evidence to back his allegations as stated in the screaming newspaper headlines that have recklessly impugned the integrity of the people he mentioned?

Why doesn’t the Senate censure him for making the legislative body look like a gang that respects no one, including a co-equal branch of government?

I guess being jailed, as Trillanes had been, affects people differently. The trapo (traditional politician) Ninoy Aquino became an idealist, for example, and Mandela found in his heart the ability to forgive. However, in Hitler’s – and I suspect Trillanes’ – case, incarceration turned them into megalomaniacs.

What kind of a country have we become when nobody in the “august” Senate confronts this irresponsible finger-pointer, and makes him accountable for his wild accusations?

* * *

Out of the five members of President Benigno S. Aquino’s Citizens’ Peace Council, only two bothered to appear before the Senate hearing to present the findings they miraculously came up with in just 13 working days.

As usual, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala was “out of town.” Nothing, of course, is more important than his business meetings. Cardinal Tagle and former Ambassador to the Vatican Howard Dee, former president Corazon Aquino’s “balae,” didn’t bother to explain why they couldn’t make it. In fact, I haven’t heard a single word from Cardinal Tagle explaining his views on the BBL.

Even Ayala’s first “designated” representative, Cielito Habito, abandoned his post after one appearance at the Congress hearing. The tycoon had to designate another representative, former economic planning chief Cayetano Paderanga, who knows nothing about the Muslim problem. Only former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, whose son is Cebu governor and badly needs Aquino’s support for his reelection, and Bai Sumnad-Usman, whose qualification is that she founded a mostly unheard of “Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement.”

I nearly fell off my seat upon learning of the explanation given by several of the “Peace Council” representatives why they support the parliamentary system proposed for adoption by the BM government.

Usman, Bishop Quevedo, Jesuit priest Joel Tabora and, surprisingly, former Comelec chairman Christian Monsod, all said that direct voting for the head of the BM government wouldn’t work, as warlords and other unscrupulous politicians had managed to manipulate the masses in Muslim Mindanao.

Usman even quoted her lolo, a sultan she said, as telling her that the old sultanate system was better. Quevedo and Tabora claimed that a more appropriate system of governance for Muslims is by having some form of a Council of Elders consisting of datus.

These people don’t realize how crazy they sound: They are advocating a return to old feudal systems of elite dominance. There is nothing romantic about the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao of the 19th century. They even involved piracy and slavery, and of course, rule by sheer birthright.

Haven’t they heard that democracy was invented two centuries ago, and that even if there are parliamentary systems, direct voting is still considered a modern democratic experiment, a faith in the reasoning faculties of each citizen?

The real reason for the poverty of Muslims in Mindanao is not exploitation by Christian Luzon, but the corruption of Muslim politicians. Much of the former Muslim-held territory was not “grabbed” by Christians from the Visayas and Luzon. Datus and sub-datus let these parcels of land be used by settlers and copra traders, for huge fees of course.

Have you ever met a poor Muslim governor or congressman?


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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