Ombudsman: No undue haste in Binay suspension
MANILA, Philippines – The Ombudsman on Thursday, March 12, asserted its independence as a prosecutorial arm of government, refuting suspended Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr's claims of an expedited suspension order against him.
Binay was ordered to temporarily vacate his post for 6 months without pay, 5 days after the anti-corruption body announced the start of its preliminary investigation on the multiple complaints against him.
Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan denied undue haste in Binay's suspension.
"The complaints against Binay et al were filed as early as July 2014 and the period of 8 months is reasonable amount of time," he said in a press conference.
"The Ombudsman goes by the evidence, [and] followed the proper procedure," he added.
Asked about allegations members of the investigating team that looked at charges against Binay were associated with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Rafanan said "the office vouches for the competence, integrity, professionalism of these seasoned investigators."
Roxas is the presumed presidential standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party for 2016. He will be up against Binay's father and Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Strong evidence of guilt
Rafanan explained that a public official who is being investigated by the Ombudsman may be suspended at any time during the preliminary investigation and upon proper showing of strong evidence of guilt.
The younger Binay is being investigated for criminal complaints related to malversation, graft, and violation of the procurement law, as well as administrative charges for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
The complaints stem from a P11.97-million Makati contract covering the design and architectural services for a carpark building. These were allegedly not publicly bid out as required by law.
They also alleged that procurement laws were violated in the first two of 5 phases of the building's construction, as there was no detailed engineering plan.
The special team of investigators that worked on the case for 8 months also found that documents contracting Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation (Hilmarc's) to build the controversial parking structure 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, covering the mayoral terms of Binay's parents.
Vice President Binay was Makati mayor from 1986 to 1987, 1988 to 1998, and 2001 to 2010. His wife Elenita took over from 1998-2001. (READ: Red flags in 'overpriced' Makati infra projects) – Rappler.com