FULL TEXT: Binay on 'empty' claims of Makati corruption

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay finally spoke lengthily on allegations of corruption in Makati City when he was mayor, the subject of a plunder complaint before the Ombudsman and of a Senate investigation that he called a "circus-like."

On Thursday, September 18, as he had promised, he answered "point by point" the claims of critics and political opponents that he and his family earned from the alleged overpricing of Makati City Hall Building 2 and other projects and supplies at city hall.

Binay said all the allegations hurled against him and his family will not stand up in court.

Below is the full text of his speech in Filipino, as he delivered it, and in English, as provided by his office:

 

Magandang araw po sa inyo mga minamahal kong kababayan.

Isang bukas na aklat ang aking buhay.

Bata pa lamang ako ay humarap na ako sa maraming pagsubok.

Simple lamang ang aking pinagmulan. Isang librarian mula sa Bauan, Batangas ang aking ama, habang ang aking ina naman ay isang guro mula sa Cabagan, Isabela.

Tatlo kaming magkakapatid. Sa kasamaang palad, namatay ng maaga ang aming panganay at ang bunso kaya’t lumaki akong nag-iisang anak.

Noong ako’y siyam na taong gulang, nagkaroon ng kanser ang aking ina. Dahil sa kakulangan ng perang panggastos, namatay siya na wala kaming magawa.

Ako ay naging ulila.

Pinalaki ako ng aking tiyo na kapatid ng aking ama. Kasama ko sa araw-araw ay ang mga kasambahay. Nag-alaga ako ng baboy, namalengke, naglaba, namalantsa ng aking mga gamit, at naglinis ng bahay at bakuran habang nag-aaral at nangangarap.

Hindi ko kinahiya ang aking kinalakihan. 

Natuto akong humarap sa hirap ng buhay. Nagsumikap at nagpursigi ako upang malagpasan ang mga pagsubok na iniharap sa akin ng tadhana.

Nakaranas ako ng pananakit, panglalait at pangungutya. Ngunit hindi ito naging balakid. Ako’y nagsumikap. Ako’y nag-aral. Ako’y naging abogado.

Marami akong pwedeng tahaking landas, subalit pinili kong maging human rights lawyer. Pinili kong ipagtanggol ng libre ang mga mahihirap. Marami akong natulungan - mga magsasaka, manggagawa, mangingisda, mga karaniwang taong kagaya ko na walang masandalan. 

At nang ideklara ang batas militar, sumama ako sa hanay ng mga nagtanggol sa ating demokrasya. Ibinuhos namin ang aming lakas sa pagtulong sa mga biktima ng karahasan ng abusadong rehimen.

Dahil dito, ako ay ilang beses ikinulong, ngunit nagpaigting lamang ito sa aking pakikibaka. Tuwing ako ay palalayain, itinutuloy ko ang pakikipaglaban, hanggang sa naigupo ang marahas na rehimen noong pebrero 1986 sa EDSA.

Ni minsan ay hindi ko inisip na natapos ang aking laban noong 1986 EDSA Revolution. Muli kong inisip ang mga karaniwang mamamayan.

Kung magkakatotoo ang adhikain ng Edsa, dapat magsimula ito sa pagbibigay ng ginhawa sa buhay: sa pagtatatag ng isang pamahalaan na kumakalinga at naglilingkod para sa lahat, lalo na sa mga mahihirap. Sa isang bagong demokrasya, dapat lahat ay pwedeng mangarap, dapat lahat ay pwedeng umasenso.

‘Yan ang naging laban namin sa lungsod ng Makati!

Nang ako’y maging mayor ng Makati, inabutan ko ang isang lungsod na baon sa utang, sira-sira at kulang ang mga eskwelahan. At tuwing may nagkakasakit, walang matakbuhan ang mga mahihirap, tulad din ng aking yumaong ina.

Nagkaisa kami upang harapin ang mga problema. At sa awa ng Diyos, kami ay nagtagumpay. 

Mga kababayan, ang Makati ngayon ay maituturing na huwaran ng serbisyo at paglilingkod. Sa Makati, lahat ng mamamayan ay tumatangap ng pagkalinga mula sa isang pamahalaan na nakikinig at umuunawa sa kanila. Ang mga minimithi ng bawat Pilipino ay tinatamasa ng mga taga-Makati.

Ang aming programang pangkalusugan na yellow card – libreng gamot at pagpapa-ospital - ay huwaran sa buong bansa.

Ang aming pampublikong edukasyon ay libre mula sa elementarya hanggang high school. At mababang halaga naman ang tuition para sa kolehiyo. Libre pati pakain, libro, uniporme, modernong mga kagamitan - papasok na lamang ang mga kabataan ng lungsod ng Makati na taas ang noo.

At ang aming senior citizens ay libre ang sine, birthday cake, gamot at may cash allowance pa. 

Ang pangarap ng marami, naging totoo sa Makati! 

Ngayon ay nakikita natin na ang punong hitik sa bunga ay siyang binabato. Ang ating pinag-aruga ay siyang pilit na ginigiba.

Mga kaibigan, paano ba sinasagot ang mga kasinungalingan? Paano pinagtitibay ang katotohanan?

Muli kong sinasabi sa inyo, sa ilalim ng aking pamumuno, dumaan sa lahat ng pagsusuri ang mga proyekto ng Makati. Laging tinitimbang, ni minsan hindi nagkulang. At mga ahensya ng gobyerno mismo ang nagpatunay na walang katiwalian at walang pagmamalabis. 

Hindi na bago ang mga paratang nila sa akin. Tuwing halalan na lang sa Makati ang ganitong kasinungalingan ay nilalako  at binubuhay ng aking mga kalaban sa pulitika.

Ngunit ang husga at tinig ng taongbayan ng Makati: serbisyong Binay pa rin ang maaasahan.

Sa ginagawa nilang pagdinig sa Senado, ginagamit nila ang mga taong hinusgahan na ng mga taga-Makati; mga taong hindi lang minsan humarap sa paghuhusga ng taumbayan sa halalan. At hindi lang minsan kung hindi ilang beses itinakwil ng mga taga-Makati dahil hindi sila karapat-dapat na maging lingkod bayan.

Isa sa mga testigo nila ang nag-akusa na overpriced daw ang birthday cake namin sa senior citizens. Sinabi niya na isang libo daw ang presyo ng bawat cake, ngunit nang makita sa mga dokumento na tatlong daang piso lamang, napilitan siyang umamin na siya ay nanghula lamang.

Ang taong ito ay sumumpa na magsasabi ng katotohanan, ngunit hindi siya kinastigo ng mga senador.

Hayaan po ninyo na sa pagkakataong ito ay sagutin ko – punto por punto – ang mga ipinaparatang nila sa akin:

Una: ang bintang ng kanilang unang testigo na “overpriced” ang Makati City hall building 2 ay nakabatay lamang sa estima ng National Statistics Office o NSO. Ngunit ang NSO mismo ang nagsabi na may limitasyon at hindi tamang batayan ang kanilang estima. Ibig sabihin, ito ay hindi ebidensya.

Pangalawa: ang bintang na ang bidding ng proyekto diumano ay niluto o rigged ay hubad na salita lamang dahil walang dokumentong ipinakita o pinanghahawakan. 

Pangatlo: ang bintang na kumita raw ang mayor dahil umaming kumikita ang vice mayor ay haka-haka lamang. Ito ang tinatawag naming mga abogado na hearsay o sabi-sabi.

Pang-apat: ang bintang na komisyon na diumanoy nakasilid pa sa malalaking bag ay sabi-sabi lamang ng dating vice mayor. Gaya ng iba pang sinabi sa senado, wala ring ipinakitang ebidensya.

Samakatwid, wala sa ipinangangalandakan nilang testimonya ang tatayo sa isang hukuman ng batas. At dahil hindi tatayo sa hukuman ng batas, ipinalalabas na lang nila sa mala-circus na pagdinig sa senado.

Ano ba ang katotohanan sa Makati City hall building 2 na ayaw madinig ng mga nag-iimbestigang senador?

Muli, punto por punto po:

Una: ang gusali ay ipinatayo sa loob ng limang taon, at sa bawat taon ay hinahanapan ito ng konseho ng pondong gagastusin. At sa bawat taon na matatapos ang isang bahagi ay dumadaan ito sa mahigpit na audit ng Commission on Audit o COA.

Pangalawa: ang audit ng COA ay ginagawa taun-taon sa loob ng limang taon. Bukod pa ito sa technical audit ng mga teknikal na eksperto – inhinyero, arkitekto, surbeyor, at mga ekspertong accountants. Sa loob ng limang taon, sampung audit ang ginawa nila at wala silang nakita na anumang anomalya.

Pero ang ilang senador, konting basa ng construction handbook, konting kausap sa mga binayarang appraisers daw, at isang pasyal lang sa building, may konklusyon agad na overpricing. 

Inuulit ko, ayon sa batas, tanging ang Government Procurement Act lamang at mga alituntunin ng COA ang ginagamit na batayan sa pagtatayo ng gusali ng pamahalaan. hindi ang isang construction handbook na hilig iwagayway ng isang senador.

Pangatlo: ang kontratista ng gusali ay diretsong nagsabi na hindi ako humingi o binigyan ng suhol. 

Pang-apat: kung mayroon mang komisyon na sinasabing kinuha ang vice mayor, ito ay maliwanag na para sa kanya lamang.

Mga kababayan, nakita naman ninyo ang mga pananakot at panghihiya na ginawa ng mga senador sa mga testigo na ayaw makisama sa kanilang mga panunulsol. 

Sa unang pagdinig ng usaping ito lumahok ang aking anak na si Junjun Binay, punong-lungsod ng Makati. 

Magalang siyang humarap, sinubukang magpaliwanag, ngunit ano ang nangyari? Niyurakan ang kanyang pagkatao, hiniya, binalewala ang kanyang mandato.

Tinuring siyang walang alam at walang karapatang magpaliwanag. Pati ‘yung mga taga-COA na sumulat ng regular at technical audit, inakusahan agad na incompetent at bayaran kahit walang katibayan at anumang pagsusuri sa kanilang ginawa. 

Bukod sa ulat ng COA, makikita sa simpleng paghahambing ng Makati City hall building 2 sa ibang gusali ng gobyerno na walang overpricing at anomalya dito. Kung talagang gusto nilang ihambing ang gastos sa Makati City hall building 2, dapat nilang ihambing sa ibang mga government buildings, tulad ng:

Ang presyo po ng Makati City hall building 2 ay P69,549.00 kada metro kwadrado. Ito ay mas mura sa presyo na P74,751.00 kada metro kwadrado ng Batasan Pambansa annex building, at maihahambing sa P68,140.00 kada metro kwadrado ng dalawang palapag na Iloilo Convention Center. At ito ay unang bahagi o phase I pa lamang.

Mga kababayan, bakit nila sasabihing overpriced ang Makati City hall building 2 kung halos pareho naman ang presyo nito sa ibang  katulad na gusaling pampubliko? Bakit ang proyekto ng mga kasama sa pulitika, itinuturing na matuwid at tama. Pero kapag sa iba, kaagad kinakastigong tiwali at baluktot?   

Mga kababayan, sa loob ng mahigit na dalawampu’t walong taong paglilingkod ko sa bayan, dalawang administrasyon ang nagtangkang patahimikin ako. Ginamit ang kapangyarihan at lahat ng ahensya ng gobyerno upang ako ay gipitin at piliting sumuko.

Ngunit dahil nasa panig ko ang katotohanan at kayong aking mga kababayan. Hindi sila nagtagumpay.

Ngayon naman, inuusig nila ako dahil sa ayaw ng mga ambisyosyong pulitiko na ipagpatuloy natin sa buong Pilipinas ang mga programang sinimulan natin sa Makati.

Ayaw nilang makatulong tayo sa mga mahihirap. Palibhasa’y sila ay mga anak mayaman at mapang-mata ang kaugalian.

Hindi ako bago sa pagsubok.

Iyan ay hinaharap ko kahit noong ako ay bata pa lang. Humarap at patuloy akong humaharap sa mga pagsubok. At sa tuwing may pagsubok, hindi ako umaatras. ako ay laging lumalaban.

Ngunit ang laban na hinaharap ko ngayon ay hindi lamang laban para kay Jojo Binay.

Ito ay laban para sa bayan. Ito ay laban para sa sambayanang Pilipino. Ito ay laban para sa lahat ng Pilipino na natutulog sa kariton, sa mga pumapasok sa iskwela na walang notebook at libro o hindi man lang nakakain, sa mga piyon at karpintero na walang tahanan, sa mga magsasaka na walang sariling lupa, sa mga araw-araw ay naghihirap at nagtitiis pumila sa MRT at LRT, sumusuong sa trapiko at baha, at umuuwi sa gabi na may pangamba dahil sa laganap na kriminalidad.

Ito ay laban para sa ating mga kababayan na hindi pa nagiging kabahagi ng kasalukuyang pag-unlad ng ekonomiya. Walang saysay ang pag-unlad ng ekonomiya kung marami ang nagugutom.

Dapat may pagkain sa lamesa ng bawat Pilipino. Dapat may diploma sa bawat dingding ng tahanan. Kulang ang pag-unlad kung marami ang walang trabaho. Kailangang umabot sa karamihan— lalo na sa mga mahihirap — ang benepisyo ng pag-unlad. 

Mga kababayan, jkasama ninyo ako sa pangarap ng bawat Pilipino. Bugbugin at laitin man tayo kaliwa’t-kanan, babangon tayo at lalaban.

Sa aking mga katunggali, i-angat natin ang antas ng pamumulitika. Tigilan natin ang pagsisinungaling at paninira sa kapwa. Humarap tayong lahat sa isang malinis at patas na halalan. Ipakita natin ang ating kakayahan at karanasan upang maging batayan ng taongbayan. 

Mga kababayan, ito naman ang panata ko sa inyo: Kung paano ko ibinuhos ang aking oras at kaalaman para tiyakin na ang mga taga-Makati ay magiging kasalo sa pag-unlad, iyan din ang patuloy kong ginagawa bilang inyong halal na pangalawang pangulo ng bansa.

Tungkulin ko na pangalagaan ang kapakanan ng ating mga manggagawa sa iba’t-ibang bansa. Buong puso kong ibinibigay ang aking sarili para maisulong ang kanilang dignidad. Pinilit kong maging tulay sa kanilang pangangailangan. Tungkulin ko ang pagpapabahay sa ating mga kababayan.

Sa huling bilang, mayroong 100 milyong Pilipino ang ating napaglilingkuran. Ang hamon sa ating pamahalaan, madagdagan pa ang bilang ng mga pamilya na may matatawag na sarili nilang tahanan. 

Tungkulin ko rin ang pangangalaga sa Pag-IBIG fund.

Naihinto namin ang pagsasamantala ng ilang developer sa pondong pinaghirapan ninyo, at ngayon ay nagbibigay na ang Pag-IBIG ng napakaraming benepisyo sa milyun-milyong miyembro nito, kasama ang mga OFWs, kasambahay, mga drayber at mga nagtitinda sa kalye.

Mga kababayan, mga kapwa ko Pilipino, sama-sama tayong lalaban sa kahirapan. Sama-sama tayong lalaban sa pagdurusa na hinaharap natin araw-araw. Sama-sama tayong lalaban sa takot na dulot ng kriminalidad. Sama-sama tayong lalaban sa walang tigil na pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin. Sama-sama tayong lalaban sa problema ng ating mga kabataan.

Walang atrasan. Lalaban tayo para gumanda at guminhawa ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino.

Salamat po, at mabuhay ang mahal nating Pilipinas.

(English translation)

My dear fellow Filipinos,

My life is an open book.

Since I was small I have faced many challenges.

My origins are simple. My father was a librarian from Bauan, Batangas while my mother was a teacher from Cabagan, Isabela. 

We were three siblings. Unfortunately, our eldest and our youngest died early that’s why I grew up as an only child.

When I was nine years old, my mother became afflicted with cancer. Since we had no money to spend, she died as we watched helplessly. I became an orphan. I was brought up by an uncle, my father’s brother. I spent each day with the househelp. I looked after the pigs, went to market, did the laundry, ironed my clothers, and cleaned house and yard while studying and dreaming of the future.

I was not ashamed of how I grew up.

I learned to face life’s difficulties. I worked hard and persisted in order to overcome the challenges fate brought before me. I experienced pain, insult and mockery. But these I did not consider to be insurmountable hindrances.

I worked hard at survival. I persisted. I studied. I became a lawyer.

There were many paths and opportunities open to me, but I chose to become a human rights lawyer. Instead of getting rich in my law practice, I chose to defend the poor for free.  I helped a lot of people — farmers, workers, fishermen, ordinary people like me who could depend on no one. 

And when martial law was declared, I joined the ranks of the defenders of our democracy. We poured our all to helping the victims of the violence of the abusive regime. Because of this, I was thrown into prison several times, but this only steeled my resolve to fight.

Every time they released me, I would return to the struggle, until the violent regime was brought down on february 1986 at EDSA.

Never did I think that the fight was over after the 1986 EDSA Revolution. Once again I thought of the ordinary people. If the goals of EDSA were to be realized, we had to start improving lives; in putting up a government that cared for and served all the people, especially the poor.

In a new democracy, everyone should be able to dream, everyone should be able to  prosper. - that was our fight  in the city of Makati!

When I became mayor of Makati, I came upon a city deeply in debt, almost bankrupt; the schools were dilapidated and classrooms were lacking. And when someone fell ill, the poor had no recourse for help, like my poor departed mother.

We united in order to face the problem. And by the grace of God, we triumphed.  Makati now has become a model of service to the people. In Makati, all citizens receive care and attention from a  government that listens to them and understands their plight.  

What every Filipino dreams of the people of Makati experience daily.

Our Yellow Card health program —with free medicines and hospitalization— is a model for the whole country; our public education is free from elementary to high school and our college tuition is so low. Food is served free, books, uniforms, modern equipment are free —the children and the youth of Makati only have to go to school with their heads held high; and for our senior citizens, free movies, birthday cake, medicine, and there is even cash allowance. 

What many dream of, has become reality in Makati! 

Now we can see what the old people used to say: the tree laden with fruit is the one most stoned. What we grew or built lovingly everyone wants to topple and put down.

My friends, how does one answer lies? How does one firm up the truth? Allow me to tell you again, under my leadership, all Makati projects passed all the tests and scrutiny. Always they were weighed, never were they found wanting. The concerned government agencies themselves proved that there never is, never was any anomaly  and no abuse or excess.

Their accusations against me are old hat. Every time there are elections in Makati my political enemies peddle and revive all these lies. But the voice and verdict of the people of Makati: for real  public service, we can only rely on Binay.

In the Senate hearing they are now conducting, they use as winesses persons who have been judged by the people of Makati and whom they found wanting; persons who have been judged by the people during elections, not only once and not only once but many times have been rejected by the people of Makati because these persons were repeatedly found unworthy to serve.

One of their witnesses accused that the cakes we give out to senior citizens were overpriced. He alleged that the cakes cost P1,000 each but when he saw the documents that proved they were only worth p300, he was forced to admit that he just guessed. This person swore under oath to tell the truth, but he was not castigated by the senators.

So let me take this opportunity to answer point by point—punto por punto— the accusations they are bringing against me:

First: the accusation by their first witness that Makati City Hall Building 2 was “overpriced” is based only on the estimates of the National Statistics Office or NSO. But the nso itself has said that their estimates are not the correct basis. Meaning, it is not evidence.

Second: the accusation that the project bidding was allegedly rigged is all empty words because no evidence was presented, and they had no evidence to hold on to.

Third: the accusation that the mayor allegedly made money from the project because the vice mayor admitted to making money from it— this is what we lawyers call hearsay, like gossip, words in the wind.

Fourth: the accusation that the paid commission was supposedly contained in big bags is another empty claim by the former vice mayor. Like everything else bruited about in the Senate no evidence was presented.

Therefore, there is nothing in what they are showing off as testimony that can stand in a court of law.

And because these could never stand in court, they are showing them off in the circus-like senate hearings.

What is the truth about the Makati City Hall Building 2 that the senate investigators do not want to hear?

Once again, punto por punto:

First: the building was constructed in a period of five years and every year the city council looked for funds to spend for it. And after every year that a portion of the building was completed it passed through the strict audit of the COA.

Second: COA’S audit was conducted yearly within a period of five years.

This is apart from the technical audit done by technical experts —engineers, architects, surveyors, and expert accountants. Within a five-year period, they conducted ten audits and they found no anomaly whatsoever.

But a few senators, with a quick glimpse at a construction handbook, a little conversation with paid appraisers apparently, and one promenade inside the building, instantly conclude there is overpricing.

Third: the buidling contractor directly and clearly said I did not ask for nor was given any bribe.

Fourth: if there was a commission said to be collected by the vice mayor, it is very clear that it was only for himself.

My countrymen, surely you saw with your own eyes the intimidation and insults the senators did with the witnesses who would not cooperate with their machinations.

At the first hearing of this case my son, Junjun Binay, mayor of Makati, attended. He faced them respectfully, attempted to explain, but what happened? They insulted his person, they ridiculed him, they ignored his position and mandate. They considered him as clueless and with no right to explain.

Even the COA personnel who wrote the regular and the technical audits, they quickly accused of incompetence and having been bribed, even without evidence and without any examination of the audit.

Apart from the COA report, it will come out from a simple comparison of Makati City Hall Building 2 with other government buildings that there is no overpricing and anomaly there.

If they really want to compare the cost of Makati City Hall Building 2, they should compare it with other government buildings, such as:

The price of Makati City Hall Building 2 is P69,549 per square meter. This is lower than the price of P74,751 per square meter for the Batasang Pambansa Annex Building, and the  P105,000 per square meter of the Iloilo Convention Center, which is just in its first stage or Phase I.

Why are they saying the Makati City Hall Building 2 is overpriced when its cost is almost the same as those of similar public buildings? Why are the projects of their political allies considered straight and correct, but those of others, quickly condemned as graft-ridden and crooked?

My countrymen, in my more than 28 years of public service, two administrations have attempted to silence me. They used their power and all agencies of government to harass me and cow me to submission.

But because the truth is on my side as well as you, my people, they did not succeed.

Now, once again, they are prosecuting me because ambitious politicians do not want us to extend to the whole country the programs we have introduced in Makati. They do not want us to help the poor—surely because they come from the rich and their attitude and prejudice is to look down on everyone else.

I am not new to being put to the test.  I faced every challenge even when I was a boy. I faced and continue to face every challenge, every test. And every time I am put to the test, I do not turn back or surrender. I always confront it and fight. 

But the fight I am facing now  is not only for Jojo Binay. This is a fight for the nation. This is a fight for the Filipino people.

This is a fight for all Filipinos sleeping in push carts; for children going to class without notebooks and books and on an empty stomach; for peons and carpenters without homes; for farmers without their own land to farm; for those who, day in and day out must fall in line  to ride the MRT and LRT, braving the traffic and the flood, and going home at night with fear in their hearts because of the rampant criminality.

This is a fight for our people who have not become part of the present economic progress.

Economic progress is meaningless if many are still hungry. There must be food on every Filipino’s table. There should be a diploma hanging on the wall of every home. Progress is lacking if many are out of jobs. The benefits of progress must reach the many, especially the poor.

My people, I am with you in the dream of every filipino. They could maul and insult us left and right, we will always get up and fight.

To my adversaries, let us elevate our political debate… let’s put a stop to lies and character assassination.

Let us all face a clean and fair election. Let us show the people our capabilities and experience so they have a basis for choice.

My people, here is my solemn promise to you: if I poured my time and knowledge to make sure that everyone in Makati partakes in its prosperity, so have I continued to do the same as your elected Vice President of the country.

It is my duty to look after the interests and safety of our workers in various countries. With all my heart I devoted myself to advancing their interest and dignity. I worked hard to become a bridge for their many needs.

It is my duty to oversee the provision of housing for our people. As of last count, we have served some 100 million filipinos. The challenge from our government, increase, let there be more families who could call their homes their own. 

It is likewise my duty to look after the Pag-IBIG Fund. We have stopped one developer  from taking advantage of the funds you have worked so hard to build up; and now pag-ibig makes available so many benefits to its millions of members including the ofws, house help, drivers, and street vendors.

My people, my fellow Filipinos, together we shall fight against poverty. Together we shall fight against the sufferings we face every day. Together we shall fight against fear brought about by criminality. Together we shall fight the unceasing increase of the prices of commodities. Together we shall fight against the problems of our youth.

There is no turning back. We shall fight for a better life for every Filipino.

Thank you, and long live our beloved Philippines. – Rappler.com