PODCAST: Makati will be wiped out – Mercado
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former vice mayor Ernesto Mercado, Binay’s principal accuser, is expecting the Ombudsman to release its findings on the overpricing of the Makati City Hall parking building anytime soon.
All the affidavits and paperwork have been submitted, and it may only be a matter of weeks, or even days, before the Ombudsman issues its finding and recommendations.
In a podcast interview conducted in free-wheeling Filipino with Rappler writers/editors Aries Rufo, Marites Vitug and Chay Hofileña, on Wednesday, January 21 – a day before hearings of the Blue Ribbon sub-committee in the Senate resumed – Mercado says he expects an indictment of all those involved in the overpriced transactions.
In the interview, Mercado says all elected officials can face administrative or criminal cases. Once probable cause is established, Makati officials from the mayor (Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay) all the way to councilors, may be suspended from office. “Wiped out ang Makati,” he says. (Makati will be wiped out.)
Once the Office of the Ombudsman led by Conchita Carpio-Morales steps in, the former Binay ally will now be governed by a new set of rules far less relaxed than what had been observed in the Senate. But Mercado says he’s prepared to repeat in court what he has spilled in the Senate.
In court, however, his revelations will not be taken as gospel truth, with defense lawyers seeking to shred his testimony and anti-graft justices observing him very closely.
In the scheme of things, he knows his central role against the Binays. “Sinong magpapatibay ng kaso kung hindi ako magsasalita?” he asks. (Who will strengthen the case if I don’t speak?)
He can only wish that others who knew the real score would come out and reveal what they know. For instance, he talks about a “Friday Club” composed of close Binay confidants who dreamed and plotted over dinner about Binay’s presidential candidacy.
He mentions alleged cronies and dummies whom the Vice President allegedly taps to hide his hidden wealth.
Return what was stolen?
When the Ombudsman finally indicts the Binays, Mercado says he will likely be among those charged. No problem there for he expects to be tapped as state witness by the Ombudsman.
While Mercado is under the Witness Protection Program of the DOJ, his status as state witness will have to be formalized by the Ombudsman when the plunder case starts rolling in the anti-graft court.
What about returning what was stolen? On this challenge, Mercado is ambivalent.
“Depende kung meron akong isasauli,” he says. (It depends if I have anything to return.)
Vice President Jejomar Binay has been at the center of the Senate investigation of initially an alleged overpriced Makati City building. Since the subcommittee began its investigation in August 2014, whistleblowers have come forward to accuse Binay of a host of other alleged anomalies – from a vast estate owned through dummies and other overpriced buildings.
Binay has consistently denied all allegations of wrongdoing. Reacting to Mercado's revelations in the Senate, Binay – in a radio interview on Friday – said, "Hanggang sa halalan, 'yun at 'yun pa rin ang bintang. Itong mga bintang nila pareho din naman, sila lang ho ang nagsasabi. Wala naman ho silang ebidensya." (Until elections, the accusations will be the same. Their accusations are the same, and they're the only ones saying them. But they don't have evidence.) – Rappler.com
Listen to the full interview above.
You may want to listen to succeeding episodes you might have missed:
- PODCAST: Part 2: The 3 Cs in Duterte’s presidential campaign
- PODCAST: Part 1: Presidency or nothing for Duterte
- PODCAST: Investigative reporting 101
- PODCAST: Junjun Binay in jail is open warfare – Bondal