2nd plunder case filed vs Binays

Fritzie Rodriguez
2nd plunder case filed vs Binays
(UPDATED) Lawyer Renato Bondal files a second plunder complaint for alleged rigged bidding and overpricing of the Makati Science High School building

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Survey frontrunner Vice President Jejomar Binay is facing a second plunder charge before the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged overpriced P1.33 billion Makati Science High School building.

Already pending before the anti-graft office is the plunder complaint involving the Makati City Hall parking building whose price tag amounted to P1.2 billion.

Lawyer Renato Bondal, who lost to Binay’s son, Jejomar “Junjun” in the 2013 Makati mayoral race, filed Tuesday a second plunder complaint against the father and son tandem and several Makati councilors for the alleged rigged bidding and overpricing of the Makati Science High School building.

Included in the charge are officers of Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation, which was also the contractor of the Makati parking building.

Like the Makati parking building, construction of the 10-story school building began in several phases starting 2007.

“This school building has become the most expensive school building in the entire country, if not the entire world, and the Binays, and their minions and compliant, city councilors, members of the school board, and other city government  officials should be held responsible,” the complaint said.

Binay’s response

In a statement in Filipino, the Vice President said he would face his accusers in court “no matter how unfair and unjust they are.”

“Hindi ako uurong. Sasagutin ko sa Ombudsman lahat ng mga kasinungalingan ninyo – magharap tayo sa mata ng batas. Dadaan ako sa tamang proseso,” he said. (I won’t retreat. I shall answer before the the Ombudsman all your lies – we will face each other under the law. I will submit myself to the process.)

Binay pointed out every year from 2007 to 2013, there was “not a single question or a report of irregularity was raised against the projects they mentioned.” 

“Pero mula noong pumasok ang 2014, biglang may special audit, special finding, at kung ano-ano pa,” he said. (But come 2014, there was suddenly a special audit, a special finding, and all sorts of things.)

He lambasted his accusers for not sparing the holidays from politics. “Magpa-Pasko na, maraming mga kababayan natin ang hirap na hirap ang kalagayan, pero pinili ninyong mamulitika. Pero gaya nga ng sinabi ko, magharap tayo sa Ombudsman…nang makita ng lahat, kung sino ang nagsasabi ng totoo.” 

(It’s Christmas, many of our fellow countrymen have struggling in life, but you chose to play politics at this time. But as I said, let’s face each other before the Ombudsman…so everybody will see who’s telling the truth.)

Overpriced?

Citing cost estimates from the National Statistics Office and David Landon and Shea guideline, construction of the same type of building should cost only from P147 million to P470 million, or an overprice of at least P862 million to more than P1 billion. 

“As the Makati parking building, the Makati Science Building also became a veritable milking cow,” Bondal said.

Former political allies have accused the Binays of systemic corruption in the Makati City government, which has been under the family’s uninterrupted dynastic control since 1986. Binay’s wife Elenita was a one-time mayor from 1998-2001, after her husband served 3 terms. 

In 2010, when Binay again served out his 3-terms, his son replaced him as mayor. 

The Binay patriarch has expressed his desire to contest the presidency in 2016.

His survey ratings have plummeted since allegations of corruption, hidden wealth and hidden bank accounts were exposed in the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee hearing.

Same modus

OVERPRICED BUILDING. Lawyer Renato Bondal makes the allegation at a Senate hearing on November 6, 2014. Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler

Bondal said the irregularities in the Makati Science Building followed the template of the Makati parking building: rigged bidding and “chop-chop” construction that allowed for anomalies.

The first phase, amounting to more than P99 million, was supposedly won by Hilmarc’s Construction over two other bidders – ITP Construction Inc and JBros Construction – which also allegedly participated in the Makati City Hall parking building project.

JBros Construction however has informed the Senate that it did not participate in the two projects.

The 5 succeeding phases were eventually cornered by Hilmarc’s Construction, winning by default as the lone bidder.

“The Makati Science High School Building project is similarly executed and establishes the modus operandi as it parallels what occurred with the overpriced Makati parking building,” Bondal pointed out.

“Even the bidding for the architectural and engineering works was a sham as the invitation for the proposals and the submission of proposals were accomplished either on the same day or one day after,” Bondal added. Seven firms submitted proposals, with Infiniti Architectural Works as the winning bidder.

Bondal said records showed that Infiniti submitted its proposal on the day itself that the invitation to submit proposal was announced by the bid committee.

Certificate of completion

Apart from overpricing, Bondal said city government officials also violated government procedures when they issued a certificate of completion and acceptance in April 2014 when ocular inspection by the Senate showed that the 8th, 9th and 10th floors were not completed.

Bondal sought the immediate preventive suspension of the officials involved “to allow unfettered access to valuable documents and information” related to the complaint. – Rappler.com

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