'Binay owns 6 condo units in Makati'
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay, former Makati mayor, allegedly owns at least 6 condominium units in different locations in Makati City, his former ally claimed on Tuesday, November 18.
During the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee's hearing on corruption allegations against the Vice President, former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado showed "proof" that Binay owned several units through relatives and city contractors.
The alleged buildings and the supposed Binay dummies are:
- The Peak Tower through Ariel Olivar
- Le Triomphe Condo through Celso Santiago (uncle of Binay's wife Dr Elenita Binay)
- Makati Sunrise Tower Hotel (now Berjaya Hotel) also through Celso Santiago
- Perla Compania de Seguros Mansion Condotel through Benjamin Zapanta, a former Makati contractor
- Prince Plaza II Condotel through Santos Panlilio, allegedly Binay's former 'favorite' contractor
- Avignon Tower, through Santos Panlilio's wife Aurora
Mercado alleged that the units were obtained by the Binays in exchange for the speedy release of business permits and other necessary documents from city hall. The former vice mayor said among the companies the Binays could not sway in this regard was Ayala Land Inc.
The Vice President's supposed ownership of units in Makati condominiums is a long-running rumor. Saying it was an "open secret" in the city, Mercado quipped: "Di naman lahat, siguro 60-70% lang (Not all [condominiums]. Maybe just 60-70%)."
Binay was mayor of Makati for more than two decades. His wife was Makati mayor from 1998-2001, while his son, Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr, is the incumbent.
Mercado the real owner?
Rappler had earlier reported that one of the alleged dummies, Olivar, may surface at the Tuesday hearing, but he eventually chose not to. Instead, it was Mercado who presented "proof" of Binay's ownership. (READ: Dummy for alleged Binay condo ro surface)
Hours after Rappler published the report on Olivar, Binay's spokesman for political affairs Cavite Governor Juanito Victor Remulla claimed that Mercado was the "real owner" of the Peak Tower condominium.
Mercado admitted he lived in the condominium in 2011, with Binay's permission.
"Dito dating nakatira ang live-in partner niyang si Racquel Ambrosio. Dito rin nangyari ang shooting incident where Mercado was considered by police as prime suspect. Malinaw na ang agenda ni Mercado ay lokohin ang taumbayan at pagtakpan ang kanyang pagmamay-ari ng maraming properties," said Remulla in a text message sent to Rappler by Binay's head for media affairs Joey Salgado.
(Racquel Ambrosio, Mercado's former live-in partner used to live there It's also where the site of the shooting incident where Mercado was considered a prime suspect. It's clear that Mercado's intention is to fool the public and to cover-up the fact that he owns a lot of properties himself.)
In another statement, Remulla questioned why Olivar was supposedly part of the passenger manifest in the chartered helicopter used to survey the so-called "Hacienda Binay," the 350-hectare lot in Rosario, Batangas, allegedly owned by the Vice President.
"We challenge Mr Olivar to divulge all properties under his name. He is known to be a dummy of Mr Mercado," Remulla said.
Reacting to the Binay camp's statement, Mercado quipped: "If the condominium unit is mine, then thank you. That's one more property I can donate."
During the hearing, Mercado donated a lot under his name – a 4.2-hectare parcel of land in "Hacienda Binay"– to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) so it can be redistributed to farmers under the agrarian reform program.
Mercado said in a previous hearing that was surprised to find out that the parcel of land was under his name. He recalled Binay had once asked him to sign a deed of sale for a parcel of land and that at the time, he did not understand what the document was for. – Rappler.com