Ombudsman OKs preliminary probe vs VP Binay and son
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Ombudsman on Friday, March 6, announced it approved the conduct of preliminary investigation into malversation and falsification complaints filed against Vice President Jejomar Binay, his son Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr, and 22 others.
The complaint stemmed from alleged irregularities in the construction of a Makati carpark building, also the subject of a drawn-out probe at the Senate.
The following former and present Makati City officials and private contractors were included in the complaint:
- Former city administrator Marjorie de Veyra
- City legal officer Pio Kenneth Dasal
- City 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 CadanganEmerito Magat and Connie Consulta
- CPMO chief Line dela Peña
- Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) secretariat heads Giovanni Condes and Manolito Uyaco
- Technical Working Group (TWG) chairman Rodel Nayve, BAC member Ulysses Orienza
- General Services Department (GSD) OIC Gerardo San Gabriel
- GSD staff member Norman Flores
- Private respondents Orlando Mateo of MANA Architecture & Interior Design Company (MANA) and Efren Canlas of Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation (Hilmarc's).
Except for the Vice President, the Makati officials also face administrative charges for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
The complaint alleges that Makati failed to conduct a public bidding when it awarded the P11.97-million contract for the design and architectural services to MANA. It also alleges that procurement laws were violated when the bidding and construction for Phase I and II of the 5-phase building were bidded out without a detailed engineering plan from MANA.
The special team of investigators that worked on the case for months also allege that some documents used in the procurement and award of the construction contract to Hilmarc were falsified.
A check by Rappler showed that Hilmarc's was awarded at least P2 billion ($44.67 million) in government contracts for infrastructure projects in Makati City from 1999 to 2004. The period covered the mayoral terms of Vice President Binay and wife Elenita, who was Makati mayor from 2001 to 2004. (READ: Red flags in 'overpriced' Makati infra projects)
Initial Senate investigations into the issue have focused on allegations that the Makati parking building was overpriced.
In a statement, the Vice President's spokesman for political affairs, Rico Quicho, said "any charge of impropriety against the Vice President regarding the Makati City Hall Building 2 is clearly frivolous and has no basis in fact and in law."
He admitted, though, that the Binay camp had yet to receive a copy of the Ombudsman panel's recommendation.
"We are optimistic that the complaint will be ultimately dismissed by a fair and impartial tribunal. This is again a glimpse of how desperate the critics of the Vice President have become in order to fuel their own personal interests. Politics has indeed really turned to its worst form," Quicho said.
Joey Salgado, Binay's spokesperson also issued a statement slamming the Ombudsman's press statement for being "misleading."
"Either they are careless or simply want to create the impression that a case has been filed when such is not the case. What the (Ombudsman's special panel panel did was to start its preliminary investigation into the allegations which means all parties will be asked to submit their formal comments. It is no different from a preliminary investigation conducted by the fiscal's office," Salgado said. – Rappler.com