MANILA, Philippines – Don’t look at me, look at the gambler who’s fresh off a trip to Las Vegas and is fond of cock fighting.
Vice President Jejomar Binay had choice words when asked about allegations that he, as Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) National President, managed to pocket close to P200 million from the organization.
In an interview with Bombo Radyo during a trip to Isabela on Friday, January 23, Binay denied claims by his former political ally and former BSP senior vice president Ernesto Mercado that the Vice President had duped the BSP when it entered into a deal with developer Alphaland for a one-hectare property in Makati City.
Mercado alleged Binay shortchanged the BSP in the business deal and pocketed some P200 million, leaving the BSP with no land and supposedly no earnings.
“Siya (Mercado) naman ho ang nakikipag-usap doon sa may-ari, 'yung nakausap, 'yung Alphaland. Siya ho ang may power of attorney doon. Kaya nga ho 'yung sinasabi niyang 200 milyon na ako daw ang kumuha, naku baka naman ho ay nadulas lang siya. Baka 'yun ho ang 200 milyon na ginastos niya 'nung kasusugal,” said Binay.
(It was Mercado who spoke to Alphaland. He had the power of attorney. So when he’s saying I stole P200 million, maybe he just slipped. Maybe he took the P200 million and spent it all gambling.)
Asked about Mercado’s supposed gambling problem, Binay added: “Kadadating-dating lang nito sa Las Vegas. Panay ang sabong pa nga ho nito. So, sa malamang 'yung sinasabi niyang 200 milyon siya ho ang nakahanap 'nun (He just visited Las Vegas. And he’s into cockfighting. So when he’s talking about P200 million being stolen, it’s likely he took it).”
In 2008, Mercado was signatory to a joint venture agreement between the BSP and Silvertown (later renamed Alphaland Makati Place Inc) for the development of a one-hectare prime property in Makati, majority of which is owned by the BSP. Under the deal, the BSP would get 15% from the development while Alphaland would take 85%.
Mercado claimed he only signed the deal under Binay’s orders, who was at that time out of the country. Binay, the BSP and Alphaland have all denied Mercado’s claims.
Alphaland in a statement said it was Mercado who wanted kickbacks from the deal, which they turned down.
Forgiving a ‘liar’
Mercado was one of Binay’s fiercest political allies, even serving as his vice mayor, until the 2010 elections. Binay failed to fulfil his promise of allowing Mercado to succeed his for the mayoralty post and instead fielded his son, Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.
The former Makati vice mayor ran and lost against the Vice President’s son.
Years later, it is Mercado who leads the charge against Binay, acting as the star whistleblower in the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee probe into allegations that the Vice President earned millions through bid rigging and kickbacks when he was mayor of Makati.
If Mercado believes his motivation is a mix of self-preservation and perhaps even guilt, to Binay, these are acts of a desperate man.
“Malaki na ho ang nawawala sa kanya. Alam ho ninyo siya ho 'yung little mayor noong panahon namin. Nagkandidato siya, natalo. 'Di siyempre 'yung trabaho niya doon nawala na lahat (He has lost a lot. When we were still friends, he was the ‘little mayor.’ But he ran and he lost. Of course he lost everything),” said Binay.
Binay had previously alleged his political foes were behind the exposes, plunder cases, and Senate probes, as part of a scheme to eliminate him from contention for the 2016 presidential elections. Mercado is allegedly being bankrolled by Binay’s enemies.
Asked if he was willing to “forgive” Mercado should he win the presidency in 2016, Binay said yes, but with one condition.
“Kailangan naman ho sabihin niyang siya ho ay nagsinungaling. Mahirap naman ho magpatawad na hindi umaamin 'nung ginawang pagkakasala (He has to admit he lied. It’s hard to forgive someone who doesn’t admit his mistake),” said Binay.
The Senate probe has since been expanded into allegations of anomalies in the deals of the Pag-IBIG Fund and the BSP. Binay is also chairman of the Pag-IBIG Fund.